Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Differentiate between forwarding and routing in computer networks

Difference between forwarding and routing; forwarding table, routing table, data plane, control plane

Forwarding Vs Routing


Both are activities that take place at a router in the Network Layer.




·        Transfers the incoming packets from input port to the appropriate output port in a router.

·        Uses the forwarding table.

·        Determines local forwarding at this router

·        Done in hardware at link speeds (very fast).

·        Also known as “data plane”.

·        Determines the route taken by the packets from source to their destination.

·        Creates the forwarding tables.

·        Determines end-to-end path through network

·        Done at time scales of minutes or hours.

·        Also known as “control plane”.


Forwarding refers to the router-local action of transferring packet from an input link interface to the appropriate output link interface.

A forwarding table usually needs to be structured to optimize the process of looking up an address when forwarding a packet, which holds more information such as MAC address.


Routing refers to the network-wide process that determines the end-to-end paths that packets take from source to destination.

The routing table usually focuses on calculating changes in topology, and the entries in routing table are usually more succinct, only including the IP of next hop.



Related links


Find the key differences between forwarding and routing

What is forwarding table

What is routing table

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