RCDD warns of empty promises of 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper

Manufacturers are starting to open up the floodgates, promising that their products can allow for copper-based 10-Gigabit Ethernet.

Apr 1st, 2004

Manufacturers are starting to open up the floodgates, promising that their products can allow for copper-based 10-Gigabit Ethernet. But they may be empty promises that are coming out far too early, says a representative from Belden Inc., (www.belden-wire.com).

Rod Sampson, RCDD, a representative for Belden Electronics Division, addressed these issues during a recent forum held by the company in Newton, MA. End users are already seeing the so-called "10-Gbit spin," Sampson says, which purportedly guarantees that a company's current products will support the 10-Gbit Base-T application. The truth is, however, there is no such application—yet. He notes that the 10-Gbit IEEE standard is expected out no sooner than 2006, and "We are looking at 2007 by the time it's finalized."

Not ready for prime time?

Sampson adds, "The reality is, the IEEE has not defined the usable bandwidth [for 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper]. How can a company guarantee that their products will meet a yet-to-be-developed application?"

Nevertheless, Sampson says many manufacturers are expected to be flaunting 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper products in earnest by this July.

Sampson says he can understand manufacturers' enthusiasm, as the demand for these products seems to be growing. Nevertheless, he says the manufacturers' promises raise a lot of uncertainty, since many technical roadblocks to 10-Gigabit Ethernet over copper remain.

The IEEE wants a 10-Gbit standard that will support both new and existing installs. He says the next generation, or "true 10-Gbit components," will be used to run 10-Gbit on new installations up to 100 meters.

While many believe that Category 5e-based systems will not be able to support 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Sampson notes it is possible that Category 6 or enhanced Category 6-based systems can.

True 10-Gigabit cable, he says, will be augmented Category 6 cable, which is characterized out to 625 MHz. Such cable must have improved insertion loss—better than the insertion loss offered by today's Category 6 cables.

Hurdles that must be overcome include power consumption, heat dissipation, and alien crosstalk.

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