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Who wants 10G?

A review of the 10GBASE-T standard and who might be the early adopters.

In my worldly travels, I pose a question at every location. Who would you expect to be the first to adopt 10G technology? The first draft of the 10GBASE-T standard is under way, and I know of at least three electronics manufacturers that expect to release products based on this standard during the next year. But we all know that other products will hit the streets before a standard is adopted. The trick to buying a solution that will not be a proprietary solution is to watch for a company's involvement in the standards. This assures that their solution will be tuned into expected standard requirements.

As a refresher, let's look at the official objectives or the 10GBASE-T standard and who is doing what. The official objectives state that their will be a single auto-negotiating PHY capable of 10/100/1000/1G. It will support transmission over 100m of Category 7 cable, 55-100 meters of category 6 cable and have a bit error rate of 10-12. The distances on the cable are dependant on the transmission characteristics of the cable and noise both in channel and out of channel (alien next and emissions). The TIA and ISO are working to provide augmented parameters for what will probably be known as enhanced category 6. It is not expected that a new category of cable will arise out of this work, but rather a better category 6 that will be able to handle these emissions. Also note, that category 5e is not being considered. Any category 5e solution will be proprietary and limited in distance. Who wants to run new technology on old infrastructure?

The cost of a 10G copper based port should settle in at about 3x that of a copper 1G port. 10G fiber ports are expected to settle at about 10x that of a 1G fiber port. One difference on the fiber side to note is that a 10G fiber port will not auto-negotiate. There are also limitations on fiber distances and the type of fiber. The new 50micron fiber was designed for higher speed transmissions.

So, who is expected to use this technology? The first and most obvious two will be for Data Centers (storage, servers, etc.,) and for backbone speeds when a company deploys gigabit to the desktop. No surprised there. But here are some that you may not have realized.

  • Government. This sector stores some serious data and takes full advantage of real time simulation for a variety of applications. This is true for governments around the globe. When I asked the same people what they would use as a media to run these applications, most stated that they would consider either fiber or Category 7.

  • Medical community. They are expected to be adopters especially when it comes to digital radiology and treatment planning.

  • Graphics companies. Some companies are using this technology now and are expected to deploy more, and those that have not yet made the bandwidth jump are expected to do so when the copper version becomes available. If you think graphics are good in movies now, just wait! Virtual reality may appear more real than virtual.

  • Video companies. We have barely scratched the surface of what video can do. Real time interactive video will begin showing up in colleges and training centers.

  • Global financial institutions. One such company stated that it will adopt this technology for investment modeling and financial forecasting.

  • Emergency 911 services. They may be able to provide enhancements to their services through the ability to tie together all utilities within an area. Dispatch to emergencies can happen simultaneously.

  • CAD/CAM industry. CAD files are becoming increasingly large, can be modeled and rendered for a variety of reasons and in some cases are fed to computer aided manufacturing and robotics for fabrication. On the engineering side, this will allow engineers to build better prototypes to test for any number of circumstances.

Once everyone has seen these cool toys, others will surely follow. We can only imagine the possibilities of what this technology can offer when coupled with new applications. If you know of a killer app on the way that will benefit from this new standard, let me know and I will update this next year with some real examples of how this technology is working. Maybe we will really have the killer app after all?


Carrie Higbie, Global Network Applications Market Manager, The Siemon Company
Carrie has been involved in the computing and networking industries for nearly 20 years. She has worked with manufacturing firms, medical institutions, casinos, healthcare providers, cable and wireless providers and a wide variety of other industries in both networking design/implementation, project management and software development for privately held consulting firms and most recently Network and Software Solutions.

Carrie currently works with The Siemon Company where her responsibilities include providing liaison services to electronic manufacturers to assure that there is harmony between the active electronics and existing and future cabling infrastructures. She participates with the IEEE, TIA and various consortiums for standards acceptance and works to further educate the end user community on the importance of a quality infrastructure. Carrie currently holds an RCDD/LAN Specialist from BICSI, MCNE from Novell and several other certifications.


This was last published in September 2004

Dig Deeper on Network Infrastructure

10 gigabit Ethernet offers opportunities for VARs and integrators The current economic climate has limited customer spending to projects that demonstrate measureable savings. 10 GbE makes possible reducing the number of ports and switches required, thereby simplifying the task of combining multiple small data centers into large data centers. Building effective consolidated data centers requires a careful analysis of requirements and a detailed understanding of network interface, switch and cabling technology. Working with customers as they plan and implement a combined data center provides multiple opportunities for VARs and integrators to provide services and sell equipment. This guide provides an overview of the issues involved in selecting equipment and upgrading customer network infrastructure to support the use of 10 GbE in a consolidated data center.

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