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The upcoming lightning fast 10GB Ethernet

By Jean-Claude Elias - Jul 16,2015 - Last updated at Jul 16,2015

Ever heard of the 10GB Ethernet? It’s local networking speed that would let you move or copy the equivalent contents of just a little less than 2 CDs in one second, or an entire 500GB hard disk in 7 minutes, between computers.

We crave ever faster Internet connectivity, it’s understood; but what about the speed of local networks, the internal ones we have at work and even at home and that uses cables? This is what is referred to as Ethernet.

Do we really need faster local network rates? Is there a real need to transfer and copy digital contents locally faster, more than over the Internet? Especially when you think that the typical transfer speed on a local Ethernet cabled network is already a hundred faster than that of the Internet.

In the overwhelming number of situations the Ethernet cable connection that our computers use to exchange data with other machines on the same network, in one given physical location, would be 1GB/s, or 1GigE, or simply 1GB, that is one gigabit per second Ethernet. Some older hardware — rarely seen these days — still has Ethernet adapters that go for just 100Mb, one hundred megabit per second, which is ten times slower that 1GB.

Internal, or local networks, are as important as external ones today. The exchange and copying of files between colleagues in an office is very common. Users expect this to happen at the speed of light, almost as if one was saving the files on their own computer. The local network then becomes “transparent”.

Even homes today use some form of Ethernet network. You would connect a hard disk to your router and everyone in the family can save data there for all to share. Now if you’re handling one simple Word text file or one small photo it wouldn’t matter that much whether you have 1GB Ethernet or faster. You wouldn’t tell the difference. However, if you are copying high resolution photos that “weigh” 50MB or more, video files, or even small files but in large numbers, then you really can benefit from faster Ethernet.

Enter 10GB Ethernet, a connection that is 10 times faster than 1GB.

It is one of these high tech innovations that has been on paper for a few years now but has so far failed to make it on Mr Everybody’s computer. There are a few reasons for that. One of them is cost. In the current state of technology a 10GB Ethernet would add about $45 to the price of a typical laptop. It may not appear a lot at first sight, but manufacturers want to remain competitive and such additional cost would truly matter in the end.

Moreover, to benefit from 10GB you would need the machines at both ends (sending and receiving) to be fitted with it, otherwise it is the slower of the two that rules. Cables must also be able to carry data this fast, and routers and network switches must also be fitted with 10GB. That’s a lot of change in manufacturing and more hardware to buy for all of us.

There are also other technical considerations such as processors’ architecture, but Intel, for one, now seems to work on addressing this issue.

The fact that most home users connect via Wi-Fi  and not cable, particular mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, has so far kept manufacturers reluctant to move faster in implementing the ultrafast Ethernet protocol.

Again, the need for faster Ethernet is driven by the large files we use, copy, save and share, not forgetting that home audiovisuals, especially 4k TV image needs to move huge amounts of data almost instantly. So in a nutshell, 10GB certainly is coming to us as surely as USB3.0 has finally made it on most devices and is now gradually replacing USB2.0.


When exactly to expect 10GB Ethernet? An average of all estimates indicates that we could have it in business in about two years; and at home in six to eight. The patient ones will be rewarded.

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