"Within the LAN environment, a Layer 3 switch makes intelligent switching decisions based on the OSI Layer 3 source and destination addresses, similar to that of a router. A standard Layer 2 switch relies on the MAC addresses to make switching decision. The fundamental differences between the two, is that a Layer 3 switch offers more performance then that of a standard Layer 2 switch.
The NetVanta Layer 3 switches combine performance, reliability and security. These switches are perfect for Gigabit to the desktop applications or as an aggregator switch routing between VLANs, therefore segmenting data and voice and offering additional security. In addition, these NetVanta Layer 3 switches offer the optional 802.3af-compliant and legacy Power over Ethernet (PoE) requirements to power LAN devices."