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Perspectives from the Ethernet Alliance site

Jan 12, 20063 mins

* Ethernet Alliance Web site offers resources

Last time, I described the Ethernet Alliance, which debuted this week. This time, I’d like to take a look at some of the resources available at the organization’s Web site.

Previous Ethernet-related alliances had pretty good white papers available to give a general background on Ethernet technology. The Ethernet Alliance offers two – “The Ethernet Ecosystem” and “A Bit of History.” The “Ecosystem” paper does give an overview, but at a pretty high level. And the “History” paper is actually a slide presentation with the basics.

More valuable to you, the reader, is perhaps the fact that the white papers from previous groups now live on the site. From the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance (which is now defunct and no longer has its own site) there is an overview of 10 Gigabit Ethernet, which is a good backgrounder, and there are other white papers on XAUI, TCP/IP Offload, and 10 Gigabit’s use in WANs.

Even going back to the Gigabit Ethernet Alliance (also defunct) you have a primer on 1000Base-T for those who want it.

Another interesting perspective provided by the new site is a listing of currently active 802.3 subcommittees, all of which are working on standards related to Ethernet.

I’ve touched on all of these subcommittees, but seeing the list as a whole builds the case for having a central Ethernet-related alliance, and reminds us that Ethernet, while widespread, is still growing its functionality. Here is an abbreviated version of what is listed on the site:

IEEE P802.3an, 10GBase-T Task Force: developing techniques to run 10 Gigabit data rates on four-pair balanced copper cabling.

IEEE P802.3ap, Backplane Ethernet Task Force: developing a specification to transmit Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet over a switch backplane.

IEEE P802.3aq, 10GBase-LRM Task Force: driving an amendment to the 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard, focusing on a serial PHY to support FDDI-grade multimode fiber and enable transition to smaller module form factors and higher system density.

IEEE P802.3ar, Congestion Management Task Force: specifying a mechanism to support the communication of congestion information. This will minimize throughput reduction in congested flows.

IEEE P802.3as, Frame Expansion Task Force: investigating and defining the largest maximum frame size without affecting current networks and standards.

IEEE P802.3at, Power over Ethernet plus Task Force: extending power delivery and port-level resiliency capabilities, which would largely extend the number of applications that could benefit from Power over Ethernet.

IEEE 802.3, Residential Ethernet Study Group: looking at Ethernet compliance for residential applications. The committee will explore the low-latency jitter requirements that are required to stream audio and video.