Technology to transmit Gigabit Ethernet over copper wiring has been demonstrated for the first time by Alteon Websystems.
Rob Mustarde, Alteon's regional sales manager for Northern Europe, said that using copper instead of fibre optic transceiver interfaces will bring down the price of Gigabit Ethernet NIC cards by 30 per cent to 40 per cent. Mustarde added that the Alteon 10/100/1000Base-T Acenic will also bring jumbo frame technology to mixed Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet Lans.
It is expected that Gigabit Ethernet over copper will be widely installed in Web datacenter environments and server farms. Alteon expects to ship the industry's first copper based Gigabit Ethernet products, beginning in June 1999.
The IEEE 802.3ab draft standard is expected to be ratified in September by the IEEE. The specification will enable Gigabit Ethernet to operate over distances of up to 100 meters, using four pairs of Category 5 balanced copper wiring.
Alteon was quick to assuage the fears of customers buying before the standards process was complete.
"We will upgrade or replace the card if it does not meet the ratified standard," said Mustarde.
The company estimates that copper connections outnumber fibre connections in customer environments by almost 10 to one.
According to a report from analyst IDC, Alteon has 47 per cent of the worldwide market for Gigabit Ethernet adaptors.
Alteon's simple demonstration used two Windows NT servers, equipped with Acenic 1000Base-T adaptors, connected back to back. Traffic generation software was used to transmit data across the copper link. The 1000Base-T Acenic adaptor is scheduled for shipment in Q3 1999 and is expected to cost under $500 (£312).
The tri-speed adaptor will support a wide variety of server efficiency features, including jumbo frames, 802.1Q tags, interrupt coalescence and CPU off-loading functions utilising onboard RISC processors.
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