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10 Gbps Ethernet

With gigabit products still fairly new, attention has turned in the past several years to a 10 Gbps Ethernet capability. The principle driving requirement for 10 Gigabit Ethernet is the increase in Internet and intranet traffic. A number of factors contribute to the explosive growth in both Internet and intranet traffic:

  • An increase in the number of network connections

  • An increase in the connection speed of each end-station (for example, 10 Mbps users moving to 100 Mbps, analog 56K users moving to DSL and cable modems)

  • An increase in the deployment of bandwidth-intensive applications such as high-quality video

  • An increase in Web-hosting and application-hosting traffic

Initially, network managers will use 10 Gbps Ethernet to provide high-speed, local backbone interconnection between large-capacity switches. As the demand for bandwidth increases, 10 Gbps Ethernet will be deployed throughout the entire network, and will include server farm, backbone, and campus-wide connectivity. This technology enables Internet service providers (ISPs) and network service providers (NSPs) to create very-high-speed links at a very low cost, between co-located, carrier-class switches and routers.

The technology also allows the construction of metropolitan area networks (MANs) and wide area networks (WANs) that connect geographically dispersed LANs between campuses or points of presence (PoPs). Thus, Ethernet begins to compete with Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and other wide-area transmission/networking technologies. In most cases where the customer requirement is data and TCP/IP transport, 10 Gbps Ethernet provides substantial value over ATM transport for both network end users and service providers:

  • No expensive, bandwidth-consuming conversion between Ethernet packets and ATM cells is required; the network is Ethernet end to end.

  • The combination of IP and Ethernet offers quality of service and traffic-policing capabilities that approach those provided by ATM, so that advanced traffic engineering technologies are available to users and providers.

  • A wide variety of standard optical interfaces (wavelengths and link distances) have been specified for 10 Gigabit Ethernet, optimizing its operation and cost for LAN, MAN, or WAN applications.

The goal for maximum link distances cover a range of applications from 300 m to 40 km. The links operate in full-duplex mode only, using a variety of optical fiber physical media. Figure 2 compares the maximum distances specified for the various Ethernet data rates.

Figure 2

Ethernet data rate and distance options (log scale).

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