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Tech companies form Ethernet group

Several tech companies band together to form a marketing alliance to promote new advancements in the technology.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
3 min read
Technology companies such as Sun Microsystems, 3Com, Broadcom and Samsung have formed a marketing group that will work to promote and educate people about emerging Ethernet technologies.

The main purpose of the group, called the Ethernet Alliance, is to serve as a resource to help explain new advances in Ethernet technology, said Blaine Kohl, vice president of marketing for the Ethernet Alliance and vice president of marketing at Tehuti Networks, a maker of 10-gigabit-per-second Ethernet equipment. The alliance will work closely with the standards body the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), which develops Ethernet standards, and the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory, which certifies Ethernet products.

"The difference between the Ethernet Alliance and other industry alliances is that many of them come up with specifications and product certification," Kohl said. "We are just about education and serving as a resource about Ethernet technologies."

Ethernet is a local-area networking technology developed in the early 1970s as a way to connect multiple computers to one another and to exchange messages over increasingly busy networks. Over the years, the technology has beaten out many other network technologies to win its place as the dominant technology used in corporate networks.

It has also evolved--and today, Ethernet is not only used in the office, but it's increasingly being used by Internet service providers to deliver broadband services to consumers. And it's used in homes to connect multiple computers, TV sets and other Internet-enabled devices. The technology's speeds have increased dramatically, with standards supporting up to 10gbps.

"Although Ethernet has existed for more than 25 years, it does not have an industry voice that represents the spectrum of IEEE 802 Ethernet standards developments and serves the IEEE 802 Ethernet industry as a whole," Brad Booth, president of the Ethernet Alliance, said in a statement. "With the strong support of our founding members, the Ethernet Alliance will be that voice, and we will move aggressively to accelerate the growth and expansion of IEEE 802 Ethernet technologies."

Some of the new Ethernet enhancements the alliance will get involved in include the adoption of a new IEEE standard for 10gbps over copper cable; the extension of 10gbps to longer distances; the use of Ethernet as a server-clustering technology; further adoption of power over Ethernet, a technology that allows electrical power to be delivered over the same cable as Ethernet, for home use; and finally, the next leap in Ethernet speeds.

Some of these efforts, such as the 10gbps copper standard, will be ratified by the IEEE this summer, while others, such as the next generation of high-speed Ethernet, are only in their infancy.

Founding members of the Ethernet Alliance are 3Com, ADC, Agere Systems, AMCC, Aquantia, Broadcom, Force10 Networks, Foundry Networks, Intel, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pioneer Electronics, Quake Technologies, Samsung Electronics, Sun Microsystems, Tehuti Networks, Tyco Electronics, the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory and Xilinx.

Noticeably missing from this list is Cisco Systems, the world's leading provider of Ethernet switches. Kohl wouldn't comment on why Cisco has not been named as a founding member, but she did say that more announcements of companies participating in the alliance will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

Representatives from Cisco were not available for comment.