GETTING PAST 1000BASE-T

10G Ethernet Switch Cisco 550X Series

PC Ethernet has remained stuck at 1000 megabit for more than 20 years. USB however has increased to 40 gigabits. Wireless networking has improved to speeds far faster with the latest 802.11ax hardware. 802.3ab was published in 2009 which is popularly known as 1000BASE-T. The standard covers cat 5, 5e and cat 6 cables. Most now use cat 7 cable which is low cost and it has lower RF interference. OS1 and OS2 single mode fiber is used for longer distance connections.

PCIe cards for 10GBASE-T are available but they tend to be comparatively expensive. Old server cards are less costly but they use PCIe x4 slots at lower speeds. 10GBASE-T access points are still not available suggesting the problem may well be perpetual.

25GBASE-T is a more recent standard to increase the server to server performance. Cable lengths are short which is suited to top of the rack which may be a hybrid copper and fiber setup. 50 gigabit and above require optical fiber which is more costly.

Multimode fiber such as SM5 are fine for short distances in a server rack array. Distance limitations are at least 200m so its more or less equivalent to copper. The standard G.651.1 defines the most widely used forms of multi-mode optical fiber at up to 100 gigabit speeds. Modern server requirements need higher speeds which is why fiber is widely used. 100GBASE-SR4 is the standard for multi-mode optical fiber.

Single mode fiber is able to reach 80 km at 400GBASE-KR8 speeds. It is possible to wire up cities with 400 gigabit but the cost of hardware is a tad expensive. At present at those speeds the typical links are interurban in a metropolitan area network.

Fifteen years ago, a single 10G switch port would cost you $4,000. But today, the cost has dropped below $100 per port providing a wide range of choices of 8, 12, 16, 24 and 48 10G ports, starting from under $1,000 street price. You can even get it lower if you shop around. 

Consumers are not generally rich enough for 10G hardware but prices are falling. Low cost 8-port switches are most common in homes and competition has brought prices down. Eventually DOCSIS 4 will be available which can bring 10G internet to consumer homes. As prices soften the move to 10G will eventually surface maybe in 5 years.