Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "Will 10-Gigabit Ethernet Have a Bright Future?" Computer. 2002 Jun; 35(6):22-24.

Keywords: Ethernet, ATM, Sonet, gigabit Ethernet, 10-GbE


This article explores the advantages, challenges, opportunities and the technology behind the newest Ethernet protocol, 10 gigabit Ethernet. This technology is being considered for next generation network architectures. Some industry analysts predict that by 10-GbE will soon be a billion-dollar market.

The IEEE expects to formally adopt the 802.3ae standard this year. 802.3ae is 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE), provides 10 gigabit per second data rates and is capable of working in metropolitan and wide area networks (MANs and WANs). Currently, asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) and synchronous optical network (Sonet) are the dominate technologies for MANs and WANs. Ethernet is the dominant technology in local area networks (LANs), because it is considered inexpensive and easy to use. 10-GbE is the next evolutionary step in that technology and has the potential of creating a unified network topology while offering more speed than is typically available over today’s ATM and Sonet based public MANs.

A driving force behind 10-GbE is service providers’ desires to have Ethernet technology in MANs and WANs. 10-GbE will simplify network management and operations while reducing costs. However, 10-GbE does have challenges to overcome such as; reliability, quality of service (QoS) and reluctance to abandon current network equipment. Even so industry leaders such as Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks are releasing prestandard 10-GbE networking equipment. One of Nortel’s marketing managers expects vendors to price 10-GbE services 30-60 percent lower than other managed network services and 10-GbE ports and equipment about 84 percent lower than Sonet’s in order to attract users interested in switching technologies. 10-GbE was also designed to improve LANs to extend its high transmission rates to the desktop which will enhance the use of media rich desktop applications. There are a number of big potential application markets that will be improved by 10-GbE such as; storage area networks, and high-end graphic applications.

Economics will ultimately determine 10-GbEs future. Seamus Crehan, senior analyst for Dell’Oro Group predicts that by 2005, 10-GbE will be a billion-dollar market.