Low-speed Ethernet champions set plugfest ahead of new net standard

ethernet cables
Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Hand-in-hand with the forthcoming adoption of a low-speed Ethernet standard by the IEEE, proponents of the technology will hold an interoperability plugfest in October to tout the readiness of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T products.

The new specification -- IEEE P802.3bz – defines 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T, significantly boosting the speed of traditional Ethernet without requiring the tearing out of current cabling.

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Perhaps most significantly 2.5GbE and 5GbE will allow connectivity to 802.11ac Wave 2 Access Points, considered by many to be the real driving force behind bringing up the speed of traditional NBase-T products.

At Interop in May, the NBase-T Alliance showed off an assortment of 2.5G and 5GBase-T products – from switches to NICs – that it said will address new applications for NBase-T products, including the ability to aggregate data at 2.5G and 5Gbps Ethernet data across 802.11ac Wave2 access points and improved speed links to network-attached storage devices.

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For the plugfest, which will be held the week of Oct. 10 at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory in Durham, N.H., the two groups behind the new Ethernet speeds the Ethernet Alliance and the NBASE-T Alliance will work together and share post-event results of the interoperability testing performed.

“I believe this is the most significant Ethernet market transition since the 1000BASE-T standard was completed back in 1999. 1000BASE-T has become massively successful, to the point where it’s close to ubiquitous. The Ethernet Alliance’s mission is to promote IEEE 802 Ethernet technologies and, since we have many of the same members and share similar goals in this area, it makes perfect sense to work together,” wrote Peter Jones, NBASE-T Alliance Chairman in a blog. ‘We are so fortunate to be able to leverage the massive infrastructure of installed base Category 5e and 6 already in place for NBASE-T technology. The fact that the industry can get to 2.5 bit/sec and 5G bit/sec Ethernet speed without having to rebuild the network is huge. The last we checked, we had 70 billion meters of cabling and 1.3 billion outlets already installed. This is an enormous asset that we can get more value from.”

Earlier this month the Ethernet Alliance touted the ratification of a variety of IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standards including:

  • IEEE 802.3bp, Physical Layer Specifications and Management Parameters for 1Gbps Operation over a Single Twisted Pair Copper Cable”, defines physical layer(PHY) specifications (including optional single-pair autonegotiation and Energy Efficient Ethernet) and parameters for full-duplex bit/sec Ethernet operating in harsh environments found in automotive and industrial applications.
  • IEEE 802.3bq, “Physical Layer and Management Parameters for 25Gbps and 40Gbit/sec Operation, Types 25GBASE-T and 40GBASE-T”, opens the door to higher-speed 25Gbps and 40Gbps twisted pair solutions with auto-negotiation capabilities and Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) support for data center applications.
  • IEEE 802.3br, “Management Parameters for Interspersing Express Traffic”, addresses the needs of industrial control system manufacturers and the automotive market by specifying a pre-emption methodology for time-sensitive traffic.
  • IEEE 802.3 by, “Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 25Gbps Operation”, introduces cost-optimized 25Gbps PHY specifications for single-lane server and switch interconnects for data centers.

Also at the most recent Interop, the Ethernet Alliance put out its Ethernet Roadmap that not only touted the low-speed diversification of the networking technology but also the higher-speeds expected in the near future. There is currently work to develop 50Gbps, 200Gbps and 400Gbps Ethernet in the next three years.

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