I think there are something like 7 switches cascaded in my home network. There are no known performance issues (other than some rooms only being connected at 100 mbit because the in-wall wiring doesn't have all 4 pairs). If there were any issues, I would waste no time in fixing them. The longest path (Internet router to living room equipment) goes through 5 different switches.
I'd prefer to have separate routed networks for different floors/wired/wireless, but there are too many home network applications that work best if all devices are on the same broadcast domain.
I don't think it's worth my time to make things better, and I don't even have the motivation to call someone else to fix everything.
With different traffic patterns, I could definitely see potential performance issues. But it doesn't matter; streaming 1080p works from any location, and that's all that I care about for most of the network. However, even the performance-critical parts
I have seen performace issues in the past caused by switch cascading - I had an Apple AirPort Express (802.11abgn, 100 mbit Ethernet) that would only transfer about 30 mbit/sec over wireless when there were 3 switches between it and the rest of the network. Cutting down to 1 switch made it perform much closer to 100 mbit/sec.
Originally Posted by fcwilt
I would wonder if the switch built into a residential class "router" would have the performance of a dedicated switch such as a HP ProCurve.
The switches in residential routers should be able to switch close to the total capacity of all ports, unless the address tables are near-full or other advanced features that drop performance are enabled.
The switch chips in residential routers are often quite advanced and have features that are only available in managed switches costing hundreds. mine has VLAN, ACLs as high as layer 4, QoS, and more
, though most this functionality isn't exposed to the user. It's nice to have advanced switch capability like this, as the switch configuration can be exposed by third party firmware (like OpenWRT) and I can use it to force ports to 10/100 to avoid gigabit negotiation issues with bad cabling.