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10 Gigabit Ethernet Is Here

One of the holy grails of networking in the last few years was Ethernet connection speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second.

Engineers may have to find another benchmark, according to the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance (10GEA).

The cluster of participating companies Tuesday said it is demonstrating the world's largest 10 GbE Interoperability network at this week's NetWorld+Interop Show in Las Vegas. The loose knit group consists of some of the best-known names in Silicon Valley.

"The 10GEA is proud to announce and prove that 10 Gigabit Ethernet is here," said Mark Fishburn, Chairman of the Board of the 10GEA and Vice President of Technical Strategy at Spirent Communications. "This interoperability demonstration is proof that the technology is ready to be deployed in multi-vendor MAN and LAN networks around the globe, as well as be attached into the WAN core. Our member companies have worked hard to assemble this collection of products and build this network. We were pleased how easily the network was assembled during hot stage last month and then here again this week."

Positioned as a high-speed, unifying technology for networking applications in LANs, MANs, and WANs, 10GEA is professing the benefits of 10 Gigabit Ethernet to provide simple, high bandwidth at relatively low cost. In LAN applications, 10 Gigabit Ethernet could let organizations scale their packet-based networks from 10 Mbps to 10,000 Mbps. In MAN and WAN applications, 10 Gigabit Ethernet has the power to let service providers and others to create extremely high-speed longer distance Ethernet links at very competitive cost.

The temporary 10 Gigabit Ethernet interoperability network set up this week is comprised of 19 network devices and pieces of equipment from 13 companies including network systems, test equipment, components, fiber optic and cabling.

The network is a 200-plus kilometer end-to-end 10 Gigabit Ethernet network. It has 10 network hops and includes four of the seven port types specified in the IEEE 802.3ae (10 GbE) draft: 10GBASE-LR, 10GBASE-ER, 10GBASE-SR and 10GBASE-LW.

In addition to the systems demonstration, 12 companies are demonstrating a chip-to-chip communication over the IEEE 802.3ae XAUI interface. This demonstration includes five of the seven port types specified in the IEEE 802.3ae draft: 10GBASE-LR, 10GBASE-ER, 10GBASE-SR, 10GBASE-LW and 10GBASE-LX4.

"The 10GEA is in the unique position to bring together a broad selection of vendors and get them to focus and agree on a common multi-vendor 10GbE network. This effort provides each vendor with valuable interoperability data, and gives the market confidence in the technology," said Caroline Larson, chairperson of the 10GEA Marketing Committee and 10 Gigabit Ethernet Product Marketing at Intel. "Additionally it fulfills the 10GEA's charter of providing resources to establish and demonstrate multi-vendor interoperability of 10 Gigabit Ethernet products. With ratification of the standard expected next month, we are pleased to have contributed to the integrity of the standard and the viability of the technology."

The entire cast of 10GEA characters showing off their works at N+I this week includes 3Com , Cisco Systems , Extreme Networks , Intel , Sun Microsystems , Nortel Networks , World Wide Packets. Agilent Technologies , Cable Design Technologies (CDT), Corning Inc., Enterasys Networks, Force10 Networks Inc., Foundry Networks Inc., Ixia, OFS Optics, Spirent Communications, Blaze Network Products, Infineon Technologies Corp., JDS Uniphase , Marvell Semiconductor Inc. , Mindspeed, Molex Inc., Optillion, PMC-Sierra, and Velio Communications Inc.

Some key members of the Alliance are expected to share highlights of the interoperability demonstration tomorrow, update attendees on the status of the IEEE 802.3ae standard, and review general applications of the technology.