Alliance begins Ethernet mission

The Ethernet Alliance (www.ethernetalliance.org), is off and running with its mission to promote Ehernet technology.

The Ethernet Alliance (www.ethernetalliance.org), is off and running with its mission to promote Ethernet technology.

The Alliance, which officially formed in January, intends to aggressively accelerate the growth of IEEE 802 Ethernet technologies. Its scope includes all IEEE 802 Ethernet standards.

Alliance President Brad Booth says the organization will serve as an industry resource, helping member companies increase acceptance and reduce time-to-market of Ethernet products by supporting the advancement of existing and emerging technologies.

“The Alliance will serve as a marketing arm to promote the technology,” says Booth. “It will help show the technical feasibility of emerging Ethernet products, and facilitate working on standards efforts.”

Founding members, which Booth says were drawn mostly through word of mouth, are: 3Com (www.3com.com), ADC (www.adc.com), Agere Systems (www.agere.com), AMCC (www.amcc.com), Aquantia (www.aquantia.com), Broadcom (www.broadcom.com), Force10 Networks (www.force10networks.com), Foundry Networks (www.foundrynet.com), Intel (www.intel.com), Lawrence Berkeley Labs (www.lbl.gov), Pioneer Corporation (www.pioneer.co.jp), Quake Technologies (www.quaketech.com), Samsung (www.samsung.com), Sun Microsystems (www.sun.com), Tehuti Networks (www.tehutinetworks.net), Tyco Electronics (www.tyco.com), The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL;">www.iol.unh.edu) and Xilinx (www.xilinx.com).

Representatives from most of the founding member companies were already heavily involved in IEEE 802 Ethernet standards development. Booth says membership has been increasing on a weekly basis.

“The scope is so much broader than it was in the past, and it’s difficult for some companies to figure what division should pay for it,” says Booth. “We’ve seen a good up-tick from a number of companies we hoped would join quickly, and we’re looking for more to join.”

The Alliance plans to take on a large number of small projects in the coming months. “What we are trying to do is help our members be able to go out and demonstrate the technology,” says Booth. “We will develop white papers to describe the technology in layman’s terms.”

He adds, “We have a number of companies that have expressed interest in doing a call for interest to start a standards project. We are trying to facilitate those discussions so they can get their materials prepared, and get feedback from those with experience.”

For now, the Alliance is focusing on Ethernet technology incubation, interoperability demonstrations, and education. To promote these efforts, the group has started the incubation process for the next generation of Ethernet, and initiated efforts to demonstrate 10GBase-T, 10GBase-LRM and backplane Ethernet interoperability.

The Alliance is also attempting to show the interoperability of existing standards development around the 10-Gbit Ethernet base, and is also supporting efforts within the IEEE to support Power over Ethernet (PoE).

In addition, the Alliance is working to promote the use of Ethernet-based products in the residential market. Booth says Ethernet has been very well adopted in the enterprise market, but the residential market represents one of many areas that the Alliance should explore.

“In the home environment, there are a lot of things going on, like consumer electronics, TVs, amplifiers, DVD players-all of these can be connected to an Ethernet cable,” says Booth. “There’s a whole new market for Ethernet products, given its high-data rate capability.”

Booth says companies that manufacture, support, or design systems based upon Ethernet technologies have traditionally formed short-term industry alliances targeted specifically for the launch of individual technologies or particular market segments. The Ethernet Alliance, by contrast, is designed to be a long-term organization, and will exist for as long as it remains relevant to IEEE 802 Ethernet technology and supporting IEEE 802 Ethernet projects.

“Companies don’t want to pay for multiple alliances that would run at the same time,” says Booth. “It’s more affordable to put all the money into one hat.”

-Brian Milligan

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