• United States
Bob Violino
Contributing writer

Copper costs less

Sep 22, 20032 mins

Some estimates put 10G Ethernet over copper at half the cost of a fiber alternative.

Some estimates put 10G Ethernet over copper at half the cost of a fiber alternative.

Network analysts and vendors expect copper versions of 10G Ethernet to provide less-expensive alternatives to fiber. And that, of course, is good news for network managers.

“The prices for optical versions of 10Gig are coming down, but they’re still high at about $15,000 per port,” says Mike Bennett, senior network engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. “In a data center, that adds up pretty quickly.”

Bennett, who’s following both standards efforts, says it’s still unclear how much copper will affect pricing when the standards are completed. He says copper-based 10G Ethernet networks could be 50% less expensive than optical networks.

“There are substantial cost implications,” of copper 10G Ethernet, says Dan Dove, chairman of the IEEE 10GBase-CX4 task force and principal engineer for LAN physical layer technology at HP’s ProCurve Networking Business.

He says the group, one of two working on a standard, is aiming for the IEEE’s traditional goal of increasing speed by a factor of 10 while keeping prices at no more than two to three times the cost of existing technology – in this case, that being 1G over copper, which costs approximately $200 per port.

Dove says the price of copper 10G networks likely will be two to three times less than that of comparable fiber networks. The presence of a copper alternative also will help drive competitive price decreases for fiber-based 10G Ethernet equipment. “Providing a copper link will accelerate the growth of the 10Gig market and will bring down the cost of optical solutions,” Dove says.

Sean Lavey, network analyst at IDC, agrees copper will provide significant savings compared with fiber for short-distance applications. “It will make a lot of sense if you can move some traffic to copper.”

Back to feature: “Cutting 10g costs with copper”