packet switchingpacket switching
- (computing) a means of directing digitally encoded information in a communication network from its source to its destination, in which messages may be divided into smaller entities called packets, each of which travels independently through the network in paths based on moment to moment routing decisions made by the nodes through which they pass.
packet switching - Computer Definition
A digital network technology that breaks up a message into smaller chunks (packets) for transmission. Unlike circuit switching in traditional telephone networks, which requires the establishment of a dedicated point-to-point connection, each packet in a packet-switched network contains a destination address. Thus, all packets in a single message do not have to travel the same path. As traffic conditions change, they can be dynamically routed via different paths in the network, and they can even arrive out of order. The destination computer reassembles the packets into their proper sequence. Data, Voice and Video Packet switching always excelled at handling messages of different lengths, as well as different priorities, providing the attributes for quality of service (QoS) were included in the design of the network. However, packet switching was originally created for data. Today, using the global standard IP protocol (see TCP/IP), packet networks have become the norm for voice and video as well (see IP on Everything). The First Packet Switches The first international standard for wide area packet switching networks was X.25, which was defined at a time when circuits were analog and very susceptible to noise. Subsequent packet technologies, such as frame relay, were designed for almost-error-free digital lines. ATM uses a cell-switching technology that provides the bandwidth-sharing efficiency of packet switching with the guaranteed bandwidth of circuit switching. See X.25, frame relay and ATM. Contrast with circuit switching.