IEEE approves 10-Gbps Ethernet standard

To increase Ethernet's mainstream operating speed tenfold and add connectivity to wide area networks (WANs) and municipal area networks (MANs), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE, New York, N.Y.) announced June 18 that it has approved IEEE Standard 802.


To increase Ethernet's mainstream operating speed tenfold and add connectivity to wide area networks (WANs) and municipal area networks (MANs), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE, New York, N.Y.) announced June 18 that it has approved IEEE Standard 802.3ae. This new standard increases Ethernet's speed to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) and provides for linking Ethernet local area networks (LANs) to WANS and MANs. IEEE states that 802.3ae reflects Ethernet's ongoing evolution toward higher speed at a time when network and Internet traffic continue to expand dramatically.

IEEE 802.3ae, entitled "Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 10 Gbps Operation," was approved by the IEEE Standards Association's (IEEE-SA) Standards Board on June 13. Work on the standard began in early 1999, and has involved hundreds of participants worldwide.

IEEE reports that 802.3ae offers a straightforward upgrade path for Gigabit-level Ethernet backbones, is specified for fiber-optic media, and uses full-duplex operation. Its optical interface provides options for single-mode fibers at up to 40 km, and for multimedia fibers at up to 300 m. The new standard uses the same management architecture in earlier Ethernet standards. In enterprise applications, this will allow most users to leverage their existing Ethernet investments when they switch to 10-Gbps operation through the reuse of their installed architecture, software and cabling.

In addition, 802.3ae reaches beyond Ethernet's traditional LAN space by enabling easy connection to other networking technologies. An optional WAN layer allows 10-Gbps Ethernet links to be established over WAN and MAN distances. The WAN PHY maps the Ethernet frames into a Synchronous Optical Network/Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SONET/SDH) payload. As a result, service providers can create high-speed, longer-distance Ethernet links at a competitive cost by using already-deployed architecture.

"The standard fosters end-to-end network convergence at high speed," says Bob Grow, chair of IEEE's 802.3 Working Group and a principal architect in the Intel Communications Group. "As the next logical step in speed for the IEEE 802.3 standard, it expands the opportunities for current and emerging high-bandwidth applications."

Jonathan Thatcher, chair of IEEE's 802.3ae Task Force, adds that, "The push to 10 Gbps is especially important for the Internet, since nearly all its traffic starts or ends with Ethernet nodes. In essence, the new standard lets users choose Ethernet speeds from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, and still have a familiar management model throughout and consistent bridging between networks at different rates."

U.S. Demand for Chemical Sensors
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Author Information

Jim Montague, news editor

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