An electronic switch with multiple input and output ports that can be controlled from a keypad or some other front-panel switching facility. You can use matrix switches to allow multiple stations to share a group of peripherals such as printers, modems, Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) devices, or other serial or parallel devices.
The term “matrix switch” comes from the mathematical structure called a matrix, which is a two-dimensional structure with N rows and M columns representing N times M values. Likewise, a matrix switch with N input ports and M output ports has N times M switching possibilities. Typical configurations for matrix switches include 4 x 4 and 4 x 8.
Code-operated matrix switches can be operated by character codes embedded in the data stream sent from user workstations.
Graphic M-5. Matrix switch.
The term “matrix switching” also describes the switching technology at the center of an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network that functions by supplying needed bandwidth for end-to-end sessions. ATM matrix switching avoids contention by end stations on the network.