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Broadcom chips support Energy Efficient Ethernet

By Jeff Caruso, Network World
December 21, 2009 11:24 PM ET

Broadcom last week introduced chips that support the IEEE’s draft specification of Energy Efficient Ethernet and could soon make their way into a switch near you.

Broadcom announced a Gigabit Ethernet controller for desktops, laptops and netbooks that puts the MAC and PHY onto a single chip; an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller and 5-in-1 memory card reader, for cases where board space is at a premium; and a dual-port Gigabit Ethernet controller for servers and workstations with PCI Express v2.0.

During periods of low traffic, Broadcom says the physical interface can reduce energy use by up to 70% by enabling Energy Efficient Ethernet. It can be used in switches, storage systems, servers and PCs.

Energy Efficient Ethernet - 802.3az in the IEEE - isn’t expected to be standardized until September 2010. But the IEEE has been working on the spec since 2007, and is currently on Draft 2.2.

Broadcom says its products support the enhanced Layer 2 savings mechanism that is optional for triple-speed products but required for 10 Gigabit Ethernet. They support control policies that allow you to customize their energy-saving characteristics for specific applications. And they support metrics to measure the energy savings.

Broadcom further says that its technology allows one of its PHYs to be in energy-saving mode even when interfacing with a non-EEE-enabled MAC.

Broadcom is currently offering samples to early-access customers.

Broadcom has been in the news quite a bit lately. It recently acquired Dune Networks, which makes high-speed switch fabrics. And it raised its net revenue estimate to increase from the third quarter of 2009 by 5%.

Read more about lans & wans in Network World's LANs & WANs section.

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