Here comes 5Gbps networking over standard cables

Here comes 5Gbps networking over standard cablesA new Ethernet standard that allows for up to 2.5Gbps over normal Cat 5e cables (the ones you probably have in your house) has been approved by the IEEE. The standard—formally known as IEEE 802.3bz-2016, 2.5G/5GBASE-T, or just 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet—also allows for up to 5Gbps over Cat 6 cabling.

The new standard was specifically designed to bridge the copper-twisted-pair gap between Gigabit Ethernet (1Gbps), which is currently the fastest standard for conventional Cat 5e and Cat 6 cabling, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, which can do 10Gbps but requires special Cat 6a or 7 cabling. Rather impressively work only began on the new standard at the end of 2014, which gives you some idea of how quickly the powers that be wanted to push this through.

While Cat 6a and 7 are growing in popularity, the vast majority of homes, offices, and institutions use Cat 5e and Cat 6—and upgrading the cabling would be very expensive indeed. A wired 1Gbps connection is still fairly adequate for a single PC user, of course—but over the last few years, with the explosion of high-speed Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet is now one of the bottlenecks. For example, the top end of the 802.11ac spec eventually calls for a total aggregate capacity of around 6.5Gbps; even current consumer 802.11ac gear, which maxes out at around 1.3 or 1.6Gbps, is running up against the limits of GigE.

The new 2.5G/5GBASE-T standard (PDF) will let you run 2.5Gbps over 100 metres of Cat 5e or 5Gbps over 100 metres of Cat 6, which should be fine for most homes and offices. The standard also implements other nice-to-have features, including various Power over Ethernet standards (PoE, PoE+, and UPoE)—handy for rolling out Wi-Fi access points.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: technologies

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