Intel and Level One could radically reduce the cost of implementing Gigabit Ethernet with ?category 5? copper wiring, after deciding to work together on this emerging fast Lan technology.
Level One, a communications chips maker, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Intel. The companies will work together to enhance industry specifications and to develop, demonstrate and market Gigabit Ethernet products designed for UTP wiring.
The Gigabit Ethernet standard was officially approved last week. The technology was originally designed to run on fibre but a separate group called the IEEE 802.3ab Task Force is working on a copper version of the spec, 1000 Base-T, expected to be finalised by March 1999. A first draft of the 1000 Base-T specification for Gigabit Ethernet on category 5 UTP wiring was presented in November 1997.
1000 Base-T could considerably drive down the cost of implementing Gigabit Ethernet because it will mean that many businesses can use their existing UTP wiring, rather than having to switch to expensive fibre.
Gigabit Ethernet is mainly being used as a backbone technology at the moment but proponents are hoping that increasing demand for Lan bandwidth will eventually create a market for Gigabit Ethernet that connects to desktops.
On most types of fibre, Gigabit Ethernet will support distances of up to 550 metres. On copper, the maximum distance will be 100 metres.
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