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Optical components

Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper

Yet another IEEE standard is born, this time for 10-Gbit/s over Category 5 copper wiring. Last week, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) gave the green light to a six-company coalition after a presentation from startup SolarFlare Communications Inc. during last week's meetings in Hawaii (see SolarFlare Holds 10GE Tutorial).

The "10-G Base T" study group hasn't set a timetable yet, but initial backers expect to complete the standard within the four-year window allotted by the IEEE. The group will be part of the 802.3 series of standards for Ethernet.

SolarFlare's pitch was backed by five other startups: Cicada Semiconductor Inc., Accelerant Networks Inc., Mysticom Ltd., Plato Labs, and Telicos. This clique won't necessarily be running the study group that the IEEE approved; those kinds of administrative details will be ironed out in the coming months.

"Our worst issue was the cynics," says Ahmet Tuncay, SolarFlare's founder and vice president of marketing. "Most people thought 10 Gbit/s could not be brought onto this type of cabling because it was beyond the Shannon wall" -- that is, beyond the theoretical limit of transmission speeds on a noisy channel.

SolarFlare's presentation -- which went into significant technical detail -- convinced the engineers in attendance that the feat was possible. "You just have to mitigate more of the capacity-reducing impairments like echo," Tuncay says.

The IEEE already addresses 10-Gbit/s Ethernet in its 802.3ae standard, but the new group's focus is on a deeper level. Specifically, they'll be discussing the electronics required to make 10-Gbit/s signals viable on existing copper wiring, as the noise levels on those cables can be enough to slow down or disrupt high-speed signals.

The goal is to make 10-Gbit/s Ethernet viable for the existing business environment without forcing companies to rewire their buildings with fiber.

"Unlike metro Ethernet, enterprise Ethernet has a legacy of working on installed cabling, and UTP [unshielded twisted pair] is the predominant flavor of cabling in these data centers," Tuncay says. "The real challenge of 10 Gbit/s in the enterprise has been to figure out how to make it run on this installed cabling."

It's worth noting that the six startups aren't in lockstep agreement on the standard. They all want to use technologies available today, such as pulse-amplitude modulation and adaptive equalization, but the specifics are up for grabs.

PAM, for example, is a way for electronic signals to carry more than one bit per pulse, but the startups disagree on which version of PAM should be used. With adaptive equalization -- the ability to compensate for the variations in signal quality -- it's a question of whether an analog or digital technique is best.

"These are the areas where the study group is going to spend some time," says Jim Tavacoli, vice president of marketing for Accelerant.

The study group's next step is to submit a Project Authorization Request to the IEEE. Once that's approved, the group becomes a "working group" and is officially on its way toward defining a standard.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com

Want to know more? The big cheeses of the optical networking industry will be discussing 10-Gigabit Ethernet at LightSpeed Europe. Check it out at http://www.lightspeedeurope.com.



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fw23 12/4/2012 | 9:20:08 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper >The IEEE already addresses 10-Gbit/s Ethernet in >its 802.3ae standard, but the new group's focus >is on a deeper level. Specifically, they'll be >discussing the electronics required to make 10->Gbit/s signals viable on existing copper wiring, >as the noise levels on those cables can be >enough to slow down or disrupt high-speed signals.

I think they are making some unreasonable
assumptions about the quality of copper deployed
today. Also, it would seem to me that external
issues (external noise) is going to be as big
an issue as the internal noise in the cables.
There are physical effects with copper that
I think would be issues.

I dont think its impossible, but I dont think
they will be able to retrofit 10G signals into
deployed copper. But then again, even having
to deploy new copper is better than having
to put in new fiber.
tsat 12/4/2012 | 9:20:07 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper But they can't do 1 megabit over the phone lines
into my house?

The Last Mile problem is the Common Cold of the
telecom industry... there is simply no cure.

-tsat



digerato 12/4/2012 | 9:20:05 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper They're talking about doing 10G over Category 5 copper cabling. Your house is most likely not connected to the wiring loom in the CO by Cat 5 cable -- just regular pots twisted pair. There's a big difference.

Digerato
next-gen-wisdom 12/4/2012 | 9:20:03 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper I like the idea of 10Gig over copper. It's a very friendly way to work with Ethernet, forget about fiber just use your existing copper.

Also the Ethernet over copper pairs seems to me as a very good business opportunity.
sigint 12/4/2012 | 9:20:00 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper The "just regular pots twisted pair" is most usually an ABAM cable, thicker gauage and hence lower attenuation as compared to CAT5.

It's the low pass filters in the POTS network that prevent the use of high bit rates.

But more than that, it has to be a "lack of desire" on part of phoen companies, rather than any trivial technical detail.

Thanks,
Sigint
__________________________________________________
They're talking about doing 10G over Category 5 copper cabling. Your house is most likely not connected to the wiring loom in the CO by Cat 5 cable -- just regular pots twisted pair. There's a big difference.

Digerato
sigint 12/4/2012 | 9:19:59 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper .. and not "Unbundled", as the article states. Cat 5 is indeed a bundle of four individual twisted pairs.

Thanks,
Sigint
Phonon-Ex 12/4/2012 | 9:19:59 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper I also like the concept of transmission over cat 5. I think it's a matter of time before workers in the field develop new compression and modulation technologies to surmount the theoretical hurdles inherent to this type of transmission. In fact, it's partly the new, more efficient modulation techniques that are preventing the paradigm shift from 10G to 40G.
You may recall how bad cellular was a decade ago. However, 3-G wireless speed is over 300kbps for stationary users, which already exceeds dial-up modem speed: The cellular transmission channel (the aether) has remained intact, but the technology has vastly improved over the last decade - analogously, I think the same can happen for cat 5 or UTP, if effort is dedicated to solving the problem.

Cheerio
PEX
ajo2 12/4/2012 | 9:19:58 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper > I think it's a matter of time before workers in the
> field develop new compression and modulation
> technologies to surmount the theoretical hurdles
> inherent to this type of transmission.


"Compression technologies" have nothing to do with the "theoretical hurdles inherent to" 10 gig transmission over copper. Not only is compression handled at a different layer, but you can't count on being able to compress all types of traffic. Put another way, you can't call it 10 gig transmission if the 10 gig only applies when sending text.

> In fact, it's partly the new, more efficient
> modulation techniques that are preventing the
> paradigm shift from 10G to 40G.

Nope, 40G stuff is out there. What is "preventing the paradigm shift from 10G to 40G" is price and availability. Very few are willing to pay the price for that sort of bandwidth, therefore the volume stays low and price stays high.
horse of a different color 12/4/2012 | 9:19:57 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper It's not a matter of whether it can be done. It's a matter of anyone caring or needing it. Sounds like another technology looking for a problem to me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge proponent of Ethernet, and have always been. I worked at SynOptics when 10BaseT became a standard. I was a member of the GigE Alliance as well. But I've seen (and worked for) too many companies that go belly-up trying to create a technology that no one needs or is willing to pay for. It's a great science project to keep the engineers and scientists busy, but I don't think many, if any, would actually need it or be willing to pay for it. Think about the massive amount of data required to justify a pipe of this size. If you really need something like this, chances are that you will either already have fiber installed (which doesn't have the distance limitations, noise susceptability or security issues of copper), or they would be able to justify paying for installing it. Not not enough bang for the buck.

But that's just my opinion...I could be wrong.

Horse
Half-Inch Stud 12/4/2012 | 9:19:56 PM
re: Startups Move 10-Gig to Copper CAT5 cable and 10gig daterate transfer sounds foolish. First hurdle is the deficient crimp connector. I'm not gullible.

Outcard: Guess I could read the article to see the 10g x 4 is really a intent on wordsmith spin of 2.5G x 4 somehow...when faced with REAL-LIFE deployment. I'm not gullible. Not even at 2.5g per twistpair...

Notwithstanding Balanced Line is good theory, and well-applied in Ham radio antenna feeds...for low Nyquist RF. Let's radiate.

Possible hero efforts get flat-lined when faced with the reality of deployment.

Half-Inch Stud
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