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Hardware

Ethernet hardware currently falls general into three big categories: 10Mbps Ethernet, 100Mbps Fast Ethernet, and 1000Mbps gigabit Ethernet.

NOTE

There are the legacy "thick" and "thin" coaxial 10Mbps Ethernet standards, but almost no one uses them anymore except to impress people with how antiquated stuff really was in the 1980s. There are even more esoteric forms, such as 10Broad36 10Mbps Ethernet over broadband cable and 802.3e 1Mbps Ethernet. Although you're not likely to run across 10Base5 outside of a museum or the ceiling of a really old building, you still might find active installations of 10Base2. Because it is so difficult to maintain in today's dynamic environments and doesn't support speeds greater than 10 Mbps, usually the most cost-effective thing to do is rip it out like a dandelion.

The most obvious difference among the three is the speed. All three Ethernet groups have specifications for transmitting over unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable, single-mode fiber (SMF), multimode fiber (MMF), and half- and full-duplex operating modes.

Table 1 Matrix of Ethernet Standards and Cabling Mediums

Common Name

Standard

Speed

Cabling Medium

10Base5

802.3

10Mbps

50-ohm 10mm coaxial

10Base2

802.3a

10Mbps

50-ohm 5mm coaxial RG58

10BaseT

802.3i

10Mbps

100-ohm Cat 3 UTP, two-pair

10BaseFL/10BaseFB

802.3j

10Mbps

850nm light over multimode fiber (62.5/125 micron)

100BaseTX

802.3u

100Mbps

100-ohm Cat 5 UTP, two-pair

100BaseFX

802.3u

100Mbps

1300nm light over multimode fiber (62.5/125 micron)

100BaseT4

802.3u

100 Mbps

100-ohm Cat 3 UTP, four-pair

100BaseT2

802.3y

100 Mbps

100-ohm Cat 3 UTP, two-pair

1000BaseSX

802.3z

1Gbps

850nm light over 62.5/125 multimode fiber

1000BaseLX

802.3z

1Gbps

1300nm light over 62.5/125 multimode fiber, or 10-micron single-mode fiber.

1000BaseCX

802.3z

1Gbps

Short-haul copper

1000BaseT

802.3ab

1Gbps

100-ohm Cat 5/Cat 5e UTP, four-pair

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