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Ethernet has withstood the test of time

From its origin more than 25 years ago, Ethernet has evolved to meet the increasing demands of packet-based networks. Due to its proven low implementation cost, reliability, and relative simplicity of installation and maintenance, its popularity h...


July 1, 2004  


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From its origin more than 25 years ago, Ethernet has evolved to meet the increasing demands of packet-based networks. Due to its proven low implementation cost, reliability, and relative simplicity of installation and maintenance, its popularity has grown to the point that nearly all traffic on the Internet originates or terminates with an Ethernet connection.

Further, as the demand for ever-faster network speeds has increased, Ethernet has been adapted to handle these higher speeds, as well as the surges in volume demand that accompany them.

Ethernet can now progress to 10 gigabits per second while retaining its critical Ethernet properties, such as the packet format, and the current capabilities are easily transferable to the new standard.

Ethernet technology is currently the most deployed technology for high-performance LAN environments. Enterprises around the world have invested cabling, equipment, processes, and training in it.

In addition, the ubiquity of Ethernet keeps its costs low, and with each deployment of next-generation Ethernet technology, deployment costs have trended downward.

In networks today, the increase in worldwide network traffic is driving service providers, enterprise network managers and architects to look to faster network technologies to solve increased bandwidth demands.

With this addition, a LAN now can reach further distances and support even more bandwidth-hungry applications.

As 10 Gigabit Ethernet enters the market and equipment vendors deliver compatible network devices, the next step for enterprise and service provider networks is the combination of multi-gigabit bandwidth with intelligent services, which leads to intelligent, multi-gigabit networks with backbone and server connections ranging up to 10 Gbps.

Convergence of voice and data net- works running over Ethernet becomes a real option. And, as TCP/IP incorporates enhanced services and features, such as packetized voice and video, the underlying Ethernet can also carry these services without modification.

The 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard not only increases the speed of Ethernet to 10 Gbps, but also extends its interconnectivity and its operating distance.

Like Gigabit Ethernet, the new standard supports both single-mode and multimode fiber mediums.

However, the distance for single-mode (SM) fiber has expanded from 5 km in Gigabit Ethernet to 40 km in 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The advantage of reaching new distances gives companies who manage their own LAN environments the option to extend their data center to a more cost-effective location up to 40 km away from their campuses.

This also allows them to support multiple campus locations.

Compared to 10 Gbps telecom-munications lasers, the 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology will be capable of using lower cost, non-cooled optics, and vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSEL), which can lower PMD device costs.

Vendors and users generally agree that Ethernet is inexpensive, well understood, widely deployed and backwards compatible in today’s LAN networks.

Today, a packet can leave a server on a short-haul optic Gigabit Ethernet port, move cross-country via a DWDM (dense-wave division multiplexing) network, and find its way down to a PC attached to a Gigabit copper port, all without any re-framing or protocol conversion.

Ethernet is literally everywhere, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet maintains this seamless migration in functionality for any application in which Ethernet can be applied.

Ethernet has withstood the test of time to become the most widely adopted networking technology in the world.

With the rising dependency on networks and the increasing number of bandwidth-intensive applications, service providers seek higher capacity networking solutions that simplify and reduce the total cost of network connectivity, thus permitting profitable service differentiation, while maintaining very high levels of reliability.

10 Gigabit Ethernet is proving to be a solid solution to network challenges and is the natural evolution of the well-established IEE802.3ae* standard in both speed and distance.

Doug Cooper is country manager of Intel Canada Ltd.


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