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Warp factor ten

First came Ethernet, then fast Ethernet and now Gigabit Ethernet. How fast can data be sent over a twisted pair of unshielded wires? By Philip Ling.

In an ideal world, transferring data wouldn't be inhibited by anything but physics. In reality, the cost of replacing entire infrastructures to support new developments in data transmission isn't economically feasible. The alternative is to squeeze as much through the existing channels as possible, which today means category 5 cabling.

Gigabit Ethernet over cat 5 cable, known as 1000BaseT, extends the ability of the local area network which proliferates commerce. It not only addresses the ever increasing demand for bandwidth, but importantly it remains compatible with existing Ethernet (10BaseT) and fast Ethernet (100BaseT) legacy equipment.

Gigabit Ethernet, which means speeds of 1000Mbit/s over lan cable, was formally ratified as an Ethernet standard by IEEE in June 1999. Since then, a number of companies have been working on the enabling piece of the jigsaw, the high speed interface which provides 10/100/1000BaseT interoperability.

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Author
Graham Pitcher

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