A new network processor chip could cut the cost of 10Gig Ethernet to as little as $400 (around £250) a port, according to semiconductor company Bay Microsystems.

Bay's Chesapeake 40 Gbit/s programmable network processor is being built into a wide range of access, edge, metro and transport equipment, said Chuck Gershman, Bay's president and CEO. He added that it could even enable Gig Ethernet to the home, at $40 a port.

"Chesapeake delivers the highest performance of any network processor on the market today while using the lowest power per Gbit/s in its class," said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at The Linley Group.

It is also a big step on the road to 100Gig Ethernet, Gershman claimed - he said that the chip's speed today is 40 Gbit/s, but it is scalable, and its internal processing engine is already capable of up to 125 Gbit/s.

Testing for 10Gig Ethernet over copper twisted-pair (10GBase-T) is getting easier as well, thanks to the introduction by Fluke Networks of a 10Gig add-on for its DTX-1800 cable analyser. Fluke claims that it makes the DTX the only standards-compliant tester that supports Ethernet cabling from 10Mbit/s to 10Gbit/s.

Fluke said that its system is capable of measuring and evaluating alien-crosstalk, as well as checking each cable pair individually. Alien crosstalk is a particular problem for 10Gig Ethernet as the transmission speed is high enough for each cable pair to affect all the others in the bundle.

And those 10Gig standards are gathering pace, with the Ethernet Alliance forming subcommittees to work on interoperability specs and tests for both copper 10GBase-T and 10G EPON (Ethernet passive optical networking).

The move from Gig to 10Gig EPON will be especially significant as the industry looks to deliver advanced video services, backhaul 4G mobile networks and provide ever-faster broadband, said Adam Healey, who chairs the Ethernet Alliance's technical committee.

He added that 10GBase-T remains on track for ratification in June. It has taken the Alliance and its members four years to arrive at a standard for 10GBase-T, which will enable 10Gig Ethernet to move out of the data centre and into wider use.