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Power-over-Ethernet chip in the works

Jun 10, 20032 mins

* PowerDsine, Motorola team up for power-over-Ethernet chip design

With a standard scheduled for approval this month, power-over-Ethernet specialist PowerDsine is teaming up with semiconductor giant Motorola to jointly develop the circuitry needed for power over Ethernet.

They will create a team of engineers from both companies to make application-specific integrated circuits that combine power, analog and logic functions in one, the companies said. These would be used in Ethernet switches to supply both electrical power and Ethernet signals over the same line.

Such technology has been in use for some time for devices like IP phones and wireless LAN access points – devices where running more than one line can be an expensive headache.

But until this month the technology has been proprietary. The IEEE 802.3af task force has completed its spec, and final approval is imminent.

Network World’s Convergence newsletter authors, Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick, noted this week that it might be possible in the future to deliver power and Ethernet over the same line to client computers as well, if their power consumption can be lowered enough.

Motorola is contributing technology that acts as an interface between the digital world of moving bits and the analog world of providing power. Its chip technology puts it all on a single chip in less space than previous technology. PowerDsine, meanwhile, has been intimately involved in the development of the power-over-Ethernet standard.

The companies say that one of the chips they develop will be able to provide power to 12 Ethernet ports at 15 watts per port. They expect to have samples to switch manufacturers by year-end.