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Let’s get physical

As the communications industry – whether wired or wireless – strives towards ever higher data rates, the role of physical layer (PHY) devices is becoming increasingly important and, in some instances, contentious. It’s not surprising that the range of technologies, architectures and design options being offered is becoming increasingly complex. With Gigabit Ethernet and 10Gbit Ethernet gaining momentum, most competition will be played out in these sectors.
PHYs basically provide access to the Media Access Control (MAC) layer through a management interface. If you consider high data rate optical links, such as Gigabit Ethernet, the PHY chip is really a mux/demux combination that acts as a liaison between optics and electronics, such as the framer.

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Vanessa Knivett

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