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What are the advantages of 10 Gigabit Ethernet?

Learn about the advantages of using 10 Gigabit Ethernet for your corporate network, in this Ask the Expert response.

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What are the advantages of 10 Gigabit Ethernet? Obviously my LAN would be faster, but are there other aspects I should consider?

Currently, the only 10G applications are fiber (with the exception of CX4, which is a 15 meter solution). Speed certainly is the dominating factor. The 10GBASE-T standard, which is now 95% complete, addresses 10G for copper cabling, 55 meters on legacy category 6, 100m on Class F/Category 7 and 100m on a newer variety of category 6 tentatively called augmented category 6 cabling. This cabling and its specifications are addressed through new TIA and ISO/IEC addendums or technical service bulletins. It has been available since January of 2003, though some vendors and others have announced later products.

The 10GBASE-T standard is targeted for data centers for the first iterations although anyone is welcome to adopt it. We have several articles on who needs 10G. To get a listing, search TechTarget for 10G and you will see plenty. File sizes are growing gangbusters. By the end of the century, it is estimated that there will be terabyte of data stored for each and every human on earth. No wonder we need faster speeds!

For the first time in many years, WAN speeds are faster than LAN speeds due to more affordable pricing and Ethernet becoming pervasive in last mile operations. Since the 10GBASE-T chips are capable of auto-negotiating to lower speeds, it will eventually be the only chip available for electronics and NICs – although some capabilities may be disabled from the manufacturer. It is far cheaper to make one chip for all things than have several varieties.

There are some companies that already use 10G to the desktop (fiber only at this point) including companies that work with graphics, CAD/CAM, simulation modeling, etc. With grid computing growing, we have more and better options for moving large amounts of data. Check out Force10 and the bandwidth challenge from the supercomputing show – 136+Gbps sustained throughput! When the bandwidth is available, you can be assured that it will be consumed.

This was first published in January 2005

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