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Comms chips

Copper Ethernet Goes EEE

10:30 AM -- The new Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) standard for energy-efficient Ethernet (802.3az) doesn't apply to service provider interfaces yet.

Organizers explained this yesterday at the Technology Exploration Forum put on by The Ethernet Alliance . Because the IEEE works on rigid timelines, it was important for the task force to quickly decide which types of PHYs to work on. Obvious choices were the PHYs that are most voluminous and the PHY that, by itself, uses more power than any other.

It's limited what are called 10/100/1000 PHYs -- 10Mbit/s, 100Mbit/s, and 1Gbit/s over copper -- and the 10GBase-T interface for 10Gbit/s over copper, which was only starting to break into the market but ate more than 10 W.

What's missing? Anything over optical interfaces. There just wasn't time.

"We had one presentation where somebody said we ought to take a look at optical PHYs, too. We said, 'we're going to ask for a PAR [project authorization request] in two months," said Michael Bennett of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories .

Interest in the next EEE specification is coming from pretty much all directions; everybody wants a low-power standard for their type of part. To avoid having the EEE people work on absolutely everything, Bennett had a suggestion: Make IEEE groups create their own power-saving features before nominating their technologies for the standards process.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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