What Is A KVM Switch?

The acronym KVM refers to “Keyboard, Video, Mouse.” A KVM switch connects a keyboard, a visual display unit, and a mouse to multiple computers. Most advanced versions of this hardware device also allow sharing of speakers and USB devices between multiple computers. There are some other kinds of switches that facilitate a reverse functionality-a single computer is connected to multiple keyboards, visual display units, and mice. This configuration is mostly used when the operator needs to control one computer from multiple, usually closely-situated, locations-a team of behind-the-counter staff members controlling a public kiosk machine or a home office computer serving as a home theater.

A KVM switch finds the most usage in networks with dedicated servers. A server does not require day-to-day user interaction. So a dedicated keyboard, monitor, and mouse are also not required. Within more extensive networks, an array of servers, placed on racks, may be controlled by a single set of input and output devices using a KVM switch. A KVM switch thus conserves much energy, space, and is economical too.

A KVM switch can connect a varied number of computers-from 2 to 512. There are also enterprise-standard switches that can be daisy-chained to facilitate the control of more computers from a single keyboard, monitor, and mouse.

Networked KVM devices require only a standard Ethernet network connection to allow control of hundreds and thousands of devices from a single point. Recent developments in the technology have led to the advent of switches that allow remote access via TCP/IP. This has streamlined production processes and repair and maintenance schedules.

Switches also vary depending on the video bandwidth they can support. A consumer-grade device can usually provide a maximum of 200MHz bandwidth, while a professional-standard switch can provide twice this amount. Industry-standard switches have far greater capacities.

There are also differences in the refresh rates that KVM devices can support. The most basic ones can support 60 Hz refresh rates and are thus are compatible with only flat panel display units. Cathode Ray Tubes on the other hand, require switches that can support more than 75 Hz refresh rates.

A KVM hardware device has switches or buttons that transfer signals between the computer currently being worked on and the keyboard, monitor, and mouse. This allows the user to control multiple computers. Electronic KVM devices usually allow control with keyboard commands, while there are some that provide an On Screen Display (OSD) menu.

I-Tech Company is a leading manufacturer and worldwide distributor of KVM switches. When you buy one from them, you can be sure that you are taking home a device that is of the highest quality.