Yet another Ethernet alliance will launch this week with the stated aim of promoting the use and development of Ethernet technology, especially beyond traditional LAN apps.
Ethernet is hoping to expand into new markets such as carrier networks, consumer and home electronics equipment, as well as system bus and switch backplane components. The Ethernet Alliance says it will push the technology - the predominant LAN technology for over a decade - into the new areas, while also acting as a permanent industry special interest group for promoting next-generation versions of IEEE 802 Ethernet standards as they develop.
This Ethernet Alliance is not to be confused with the previous alliances though, including the Fast Ethernet Alliance, Gigagbit Ethernet Alliance and 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance. These were set up to ensure vendor interoperability and adherence to IEEE standards.
The Ethernet Alliance on the other hand will "promote all existing and emerging 802 Ethernet standards," its chairman, Brad Booth, a product director at Quake, said. This includes promoting emerging standards such at 10Gig Ethernet over unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling - expected to debut later this year - as well as research into the next-generation flavor of Ethernet, with speeds of 40Gbit/s and 100Gbit/s being discussed among standards makers.
Promoting something as ubiquitous as Ethernet may seem like touting PC keyboards or evangelising about the wheel, but Booth says his alliance will also work on educating industries and sectors that are just starting to work with Ethernet technology.
Members include 3Com, Broadcom, Intel, Pioneer, Samsung, Sun and Tyco Electronics - but not, very noticeably, Cisco.
Carriers have started to explore Ethernet as a WAN technology, while more makers of home electronics gear are starting to build wired and WLAN technology into DVD players, cable TV boxes and even home appliances. The use of Ethernet as a high-speed interconnect, similar to Fibre Channel, and as a system bus and backplane transport technology in PCs and telecom equipment, is also emerging.
On the basic workings of Ethernet, Booth said "there are still misconceptions" from companies outside the LAN market.