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ToR Switch in Data Center

Author Cherry

Date 06/01/2023

Do you know what is a ToR switch and what role it plays in the data center environment? This article may help you with further understanding the features of ToR switch, as well as applications in the data center.

What is ToR Switch?

Firstly, let’s understand  Tor switch's meaning. A ToR (top-of-rack) switch, also known as an access switch, typically deployed in a data center architecture. It is positioned on top of the rack and provides connectivity to multiple servers or network devices within the rack. As a central point for aggregating network traffic, the ToR switch can efficiently handle large volumes of traffic between servers, enabling seamless communication and data exchange. 

Features of ToR Switch


ToR Switch


The ToR (Top-of-Rack) switch offers several notable features that make it a crucial element in modern data center networks. 

High Port Density

Top of rack switches typically provide a high number of ports, allowing for efficient connectivity to multiple servers and network devices within a rack. This high port density accommodates the increasing demands of data centers and supports the growing number of connected devices.

Low Latency 

ToR switches are designed with low latency, allowing fast and smooth data transfer between servers. Low latency is critical for applications that require real-time data processing, such as financial trading, video streaming, and online gaming.

High-Speed Protocols

ToR switches usually support high-speed network protocols by 40G and 100G efficient interfaces to facilitate fast and reliable data transmission. These protocols allow efficient communication between servers and the broader data center network infrastructure.

Flexibility and Scalability

ToR switch are known for their flexibility and scalability, which means it has the powerful capability to adapt to evolving needs of the data center. Because It can be easily expanded by adding more switches to accommodate increased server density or network requirements.

Advanced Management Capabilities

 Top of rack switch switches feature advanced management protocols, including virtual LAN (VLAN) support, Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities, and security protocol, enabling efficient network segmentation, prioritization of traffic, and enhanced network security.

Redundancy and High Availability

ToR switch typically support link aggregation and redundant power options to ensure reliable and resilient network connectivity. Redundancy features help mitigate the impact of link failures and provide uninterrupted network service. As with our S7600 series, all switches are equipped with 2 (1+1 redundant) power supplies and multiple fans to ensure uninterrupted uptime of the device.

Monitoring and Troubleshooting

ToR switches typically provide robust monitoring and troubleshooting functionalities, empowering administrators to efficiently observe network performance, analyze traffic patterns, and proactively address potential issues. For example, it makes it easy in countering DDoS attacks and TCP/UDP Flood incidents. Primarily, these advanced capabilities serve to optimize network operations and expedite the identification and resolution of network-related challenges.


ToR Switches VS Traditional Switches

High Performance in Data Center Network

As an integral part of the data center, the ToR switch perfectly illustrates the three key critical features data center. Firstly, it provides high bandwidth and low latency, facilitating high-speed connections between servers and storage devices. The high-speed bandwidth guarantees efficient and swift data transfer, while the low latency ensures minimal delay in transmission.

Furthermore, data center networks are designed with redundancy and fault tolerance functions, ensuring uninterrupted operations and mitigating the risk of data loss or service disruption. Redundancy is achieved by replicating vital network components such as switches, routers, and cables, thus creating backup paths. 

Finally, data center networks are equipped with comprehensive security measures to eliminate unauthorized access, data breaches, and network risk. Examples include firewalls, intrusion detection systems and encryption technologies, all of which help safeguard the integrity and confidentiality of data.

 The Configuration is Different

ToR switches and traditional switches differ in hardware configuration, which determines that their functions are very different, please check the table below for the relevant parameters.


ToR Switch

Traditional Switch

Part Number








Dual core/ARM A53

SOC(Dual core/ARM A53)

Dual core/ARM A53












2 GB

2 GB

2 GB






8 GB (eMMC)

8 GB (eMMC)




Packet Buffer

36 MB

9 MB

36 MB




MAC address Capacity







ARP Capacity








After understanding the differences in parameters, let's discuss the something different of functions. Firstly, top-of-rack switches are primarily deployed atop server racks within data centers, facilitating connectivity between servers and the data center network. Conversely, traditional switches are primarily intended to connect end-user devices, such as computers, printers, and IP phones, to the network. Secondly, top-of-rack (ToR) switches typically encompass advanced features such as quality of service (QoS), VLAN segmentation, and link aggregation to optimize performance and ensure dependable communications within the data center.


In contrast, regular switches typically offer basic switching functionality without advanced features or high-speed interfaces. Lastly, ToR switches are purposefully designed to fulfill the demanding requirements of data center environments, whereas traditional switches are commonly utilized in general office environments or small-scale networks.

ToR Switches Deployment in Data Centers

Top-of-Rack Switch Architecture 

ToR Switch Deployment

The Top of Rack (ToR) switch architecture contains strategically placed ToR switches at the top of each rack within the data center. These switches serve as the critical interface between the access and core network layers, providing a centralized control point for server management within the rack. In this architecture, network traffic from multiple tor rack switch is intelligently aggregated, optimizing traffic resource allocation and simplifying network management. By facilitating efficient communication and data exchange, ToR switches enhance the overall scalability and flexibility of the data center network, enabling seamless network operations.

Seamless integration of servers into data center networks

ToR switch greatly enhance the seamless integration of servers within the data center network,  optimizing network performance and operational efficiency. These switches are equipped with advanced features such as a centralized management interface and support for Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions. the implementation of VLAN segmentation enables logical separation of network traffic, ensuring efficient and secure communication between servers. In addition, quality of service (QoS) features allow prioritization of critical applications and traffic, ensuring optimal performance and minimal latency. By leveraging these features, administrators can efficiently configure and monitor the network from a centralized control point, simplifying the network configuration and management process and facilitating uninterrupted data exchange.

Support for scalable and high-performance computing environments


ToR switch are specifically designed to meet the requirements of scalable and high-performance computing environments in the data center, capable of handling large volumes of network traffic and accommodating high-density server deployments. These switches offer high-speed connectivity options such as 10GbE, 25GbE and 40GbE, ensuring efficient data transfer and low latency. In addition, Top of rack switch switches offer powerful bandwidth management features, including quality of service (QoS) and traffic prioritization, allowing dynamic allocation of network resources based on the needs of different applications or services to achieve optimal network performance。

Top of Rack Switch Future Trends 

As data centers embrace emerging technologies like AI, VR, and edge computing, ToR switches must support faster network protocols such as 25/40/100 Gigabit Ethernet. Additionally, integrating advanced SDN capabilities into top of rack switches enables centralized management, programmability, and automation, enhancing network flexibility, scalability, and agility. To enhance security, ToR switches integrate features like advanced ACLs, network segmentation, and enhanced encryption protocols to safeguard sensitive data, prevent unauthorized access, and reduce vulnerabilities. Incorporating DPI and machine learning algorithms further enables real-time detection and response to evolving security threats, ensuring secure and resilient data center networks.

QT is a provider of high-performance ToR switches. Here are some of the more popular models available to customers.









24x 25GE SFP28, with 4x 100GE QSFP28 Uplinks

48x 10Gb SFP+ ports and 8x 100Gb QSFP28 uplinks

48x 25Gb SFP28 ports and 8x 100Gb QSFP28 uplinks

24x 10Gb SFP+ ports and 2x 40Gb QSFP+ uplinks

24x 10Gb SFP+ ports and 2x 40/100Gb QSFP28 uplinks

Power Supply

2 (1+1 redundant)

2 (1+1 redundant) hot-swappable

2 (1+1 redundant) hot-swappable

2 (1+1 redundant) hot-swappable

2 (1+1 redundant) hot-swappable

Fan Number

4 hot-pluggable

4 hot-swappable

4 hot-swappable

3 (2+1 Redundancy) Built-in

3 (2+1 Redundancy) Built-in

Switching &Forwarding Capacity

Switching Capacity: 2 Tbps

Forwarding Rate: 1488 Mpps

Switching Capacity: 2.56 Tbps

Forwarding Rate: 1905 Mpps

Switching Capacity: 4 Tbps

Forwarding Rate: 2976 Mpps

Switching Capacity: 640 Gbps

Forwarding Rate: 480 Mpps

Switching Capacity: 880 Gbps

Forwarding Rate: 540 Mpps


Support QoS/ACL/DHCP for high security.

Support LACP/VRRP/ERPS/MSTP/BFD/Smart Link for high reliability

Highly controlled QOS and security function.


Highly controlled QOS and security.


Supports Port Isolation, and ACL, QoS, DHCP.

Support MSTP/ERPS/VRRP/LACP for High Reliability

Supports Port Isolation, and ACL, QoS, DHCP.





Along with data center networks, ToR switches continue to adapt to new network requirements and technologies. The future of top of rack switches holds promising trends,   facilitating scalable and high-performance computing environments. If you would like to upgrade your data center architecture features with high port density and low latency, then a ToR switch can be your top choice.



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