Gigabit Ethernet makes the switch to copper wiring

Gigabit Ethernet makes the switch to copper wiring

By J.B. Miles

Special to GCN

Until recently, nearly all Gigabit Ethernet network interface cards used multimode fiber with SC connectors. But with standards finally in place for using Gigabit Ethernet over copper wiring, 1000Base-T NICs using Category 5 wiring and standard RJ-45 connectors are becoming more common.

To date, Alteon WebSystems Inc.'s Acenic, Asante's GigaNIX, Netgear's GA620T and GA620 and SysKonnect Inc.'s SK-NET GE-T models SK-9821 and SK-9822 fit this category. Other manufacturers, including those already manufacturing Gigabit Ethernet fiber adapters, will follow suit before year's end to meet the growing demand for copper-based Gigabit NICs.

Alteon's $695 ACEnic 10/100/1000Base-T adapter offers a simple, cost-effective migration from Fast Ethernet networks to Gigabit Ethernet networking on existing Category 5 copper wiring. The ACEnic can be used for 10/100-Mbps connections now and be upgraded to 1 Gbps when the bandwidth is needed. No new cabling will be needed, and no server reconfiguration will be required.

High ground

When the switch port is upgraded to 1 Gbps, the driver automatically negotiates the connection with the switch to the highest mutually supported switch, company representatives said. The Acenic also comes in two 1000Base-SX fiber versions.

SysKonnect's fleet of SK-NET GE models offers single- and dual-port LAN-to-server connectivity for organizations requiring Gigabit performance and the security of redundant connections for critical networks over both fiber and copper.

The $1,595 SK-NET GE-T Model SK-9822 is a dual-port 1000Base-T version running on unshielded twisted-pair copper using standard RJ-45 connectors. It offers the same Gigabit Ethernet performance over inexpensive copper wiring as the $729 Model SK-9821, but its dual ports provide protection against link failure. One dual-port SK-9822 model can be used to connect a mission-critical server to two different Gigabit Ethernet switches, providing fail-save redundancy in case one of the links fails.

The dual-link SK models for single- and multimode fiber provide the same features.

All six SK-NET GE models offer PCI hot-plug capability and support for other essential features for server NICs, including vital product data and virtual LAN support, and Simple Network Management Protocol and remote monitoring support for network administration.

Like most other Gigabit Ethernet NICs, the SK models also support both high-end 64-bit, 66-MHz PCI buses and the 32-bit, 33-MHz PCI buses found in traditional servers.

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