Gigabit Ethernet

Brief History and the IEEE 802.3z Task Force

As applications increased, the demand on the network, newer, high-speed protocols such as FDDI and ATM became available. However, in the last couple of years, Fast Ethernet has become the backbone of choice because it’s simplicity and its reliance on Ethernet. The primary goal of Gigabit Ethernet is to build on that topology and knowledge base to build a higher-speed protocol without forcing customers to throw away existing networking equipment. In March 1996, the IEEE 802.3 committee approved the 802.3z Gigabit Ethernet Standardization project. At that time as many as 54 companies expressed their intent to participate in the standardization project. The Gigabit Ethernet Alliance was formed in May 1996 by 11 companies. The Alliance represents a multi-vendor effort to provide open and inter-operable Gigabit Ethernet products. The objectives of the alliance are:

·         Supporting extension of existing Ethernet and Fast Ethernet technology in response to demand for higher network bandwidth.

·         Developing technical proposals for the inclusion in the standard

·         Establishment of inter-operability test procedures and processes

Similarities and advances over Ethernet (IEEE 802.3)

As its name implies, Gigabit Ethernet – officially known as 802.3z – is the 1 Gb/s extension of the 802.3 standard already defined for 10 and 100 Mb/s service. Gigabit Ethernet builds on top of the Ethernet protocol, but increases speed tenfold over Fast Ethernet to 1000 Mbps, or 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). It retains the Carrier Sense Multiple Access/ Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) as the access method. It supports full duplex as well as half duplex modes of operation. Initially, single-mode and multi-mode fiber and short-haul coaxial cable were supported. Standards for twisted pair cables were subsequently added. The standard uses physical signalling technology used in Fiber Channel to support Gigabit rates over optical fibres. Since Gigabit Ethernet significantly leverages on Ethernet, customers will be able to leverage their existing knowledge base to manage and maintain gigabit networks. Initially, Gigabit Ethernet was expected to be used as a backbone system in existing networks. It can be used to aggregate traffic between clients and “server farms”, and for connecting Fast Ethernet switches. It can also be used for connecting workstations and servers for high-bandwidth applications such as medical imaging or CAD. But, gigabit Ethernet is not simply a straight Ethernet running at 1 Gb/s. In fact, the ways it differs from its predecessors may be more important than its similarities. Some of the important differences are highlighted below.

(i) The cabling requirement of gigabit Ethernet is very different. The technology is based on fiber optic cable. Multi-mode fiber is able to transmit at gigabit rate to at least 580 meters and with single-mode runs exceeding 3 km. Fiber optic cabling is costly. In order to reduce the cost of cabling, the 802.3z working group also proposed the use of twisted pair or cable or coaxial cable for distances up to 30 meters.

(ii) Gigabit Ethernet also relies on a modified MAC layer. At gigabit speed, two stations 200 meters apart will not detect a collision, when both simultaneously send 64-byte frames. This inability to detect collision leads to network instability. A mechanism known as carrier extension has been proposed for frames shorter than 512 bytes. The number of repeater hops is also restricted to only one in place of two for 100 Base-T.

(iii) Flow Control is a major concern in gigabit Ethernet because of buffer overflow and junked frames in heavily loaded condition. The solution proposed by IEEE subcommittee is the 802.3x. The X-on/X-off protocol works over any full-duplex Ethernet, fast Ethernet or gigabit Ethernet link. When a switch buffer is close to capacity, the receiving device signals the sending station and tells it to stop transmitting until the buffer becomes empty.

(iv) Finally, one important feature, which Ethernet technology lacks, is the Quality of Service (QoS). The gigabit Ethernet is a connectionless technology that transmits variable length frames. As such, it simply cannot guarantee that the real-time packets get the preferential treatment they require. The IEEE subcommittee developed two specifications that will help Ethernet provide the required QoS. 802.lq tags traffic for VLANs and for prioritization. 802.lp is a signalling scheme that lets end station request priority and allows switches to pass these requests along the path. The gigabit Ethernet comes into its own as an internetworking switch link (ISL) that aggregates 10-and100-Mb/s feeds from the desktops and servers. Presently, gigabit Ethernet is already matured with a large installation base as a backbone network technology.

Gigabit Ethernet Protocol Architecture

In order to accelerate speeds from 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet up to 1 Gbps, several changes were required to be made to the physical interface. It was decided that Gigabit Ethernet will look identical to Ethernet from the data link layer upward. The challenges involved in accelerating to 1 Gbps have been resolved by merging two technologies together: IEEE 802.3 Ethernet and ANSI X3T11 Fiber Channel as shown in Fig.

                                     Figure ; Gigabit Ethernet Architecture -1

Related Posts

© 2024 Basic Computer Science - Theme by WPEnjoy · Powered by WordPress