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Gigabit Ethernet - An Overview

Ethernet technology is the one that transformed our world and our lives. As of today, Ethernet is the most dominant networking protocol. Of all existing networking and communication protocols, Ethernet has the highest number of installed active ports, by far. It all started with 10 Mbps, and by the mid of the '90s, we had 100Base Fast Ethernet available.

100 Mbps Ethernet was a fantastic achievement, and it’s still being used in various networking arrangements. However, the ever-growing demand for higher throughputs resulted in the development of Gigabit Ethernet or 1000Base Ethernet.

What is the Gigabit Ethernet?

The Gigabit Ethernet is designed to provide a maximum data rate of 1000 megabits per second or one gigabit per second. In contrast to Fast Ethernet or 100BASE Ethernet, the Gigabit Ethernet can operate at 10 times faster speeds.

Today, 1000BASE Ethernet is considered as Ethernet standard for access-level switches, access points, and workstations. Gigabit Ethernet utilizes the frame format of 803.2 and also supports full-duplex and half-duplex modes. With this technology, you can achieve a maximum link distance of up to 70 km (over fiber).


Gigabit Ethernet - Basics

Half Duplex and Full Duplex Operation at 1000 Mbps – Likewise traditional Ethernet, the Gigabit Ethernet can operate in both; half-duplex and full-duplex modes. In half-duplex mode, the system can transmit and receive data in both directions but with a time delay. Whereas, in full-duplex mode, both the sender and the receiver can transmit and receive information simultaneously on a real-time basis.

802.3 Frame Format – Gigabit Ethernet uses 802.3 frame form just like its predecessor, “Fast Ethernet.” 802.3 Ethernet frame format is an effective and time-tested way of data formatting. Moreover, the utilization of this frame format allows Gigabit Ethernet to stay backward compatible with the older Ethernet technologies.

Backward Compatibility – the 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps (Fast Ethernet) systems were widely used before the inception of the Gigabit Ethernet. It is essential to know that the Gigabit Ethernet is fully compatible with previous Ethernet standards. Thus, you can easily incorporate Gigabit Ethernet at any layer of your existing Ethernet network. The kind of universal backward Compatibility being offered by this standard eliminates the requirement of any additional hardware.

Cables Compatibility – Gigabit Ethernet is fully compatible with Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6e, and even Cat 7 cables. According to experts, better quality Cat 5e cables are known to work better with Gigabit Ethernet. Still, you can use your old, already deployed Ethernet cable for the construction of 1000Base Ethernet.


Gigabit Ethernet Variants

One of the best features of Gigabit Ethernet is its versatility. Today, we have a broad range of Gigabit Ethernet variants available for different types and configurations of physical media. Please refer to the following chart as its showing summarized information about different gigabit ethernet standards.


  • Gigabit Ethernet is fully compatible with existing Ethernet networks
  • For today`s demanding applications getting more bandwidth has become inevitable
  • Upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet is a good choice as it can be done in phases
  • Gigabit Ethernet is available over a variety of copper and optical fiber cables