Switched, Fast, and Gigabit Ethernet

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Switched, Fast, and Gigabit Ethernet, Third Edition is the one and only solution needed to understand and fully implement this entire range of Ethernet innovations. Acting both as an overview of current technologies and hardware requirements as well as a hands-on, comprehensive tutorial for deploying and managing Switched, Fast, and Gigabit Ethernets, this guide covers the most prominent present and future challenges network administrators face.

The Ethernet is ...

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Switched, Fast, and Gigabit Ethernet, Third Edition is the one and only solution needed to understand and fully implement this entire range of Ethernet innovations. Acting both as an overview of current technologies and hardware requirements as well as a hands-on, comprehensive tutorial for deploying and managing Switched, Fast, and Gigabit Ethernets, this guide covers the most prominent present and future challenges network administrators face.

The Ethernet is now the "de facto worldwide standard for local area networking hardware." This technical overview and tutorial of Ethernet technologies and hardware requirements brings you up to speed on the standard. It teaches you how to use Switched, Fast and Gigabit Ethernet products. For best understanding, you should have previous LAN and Ethernet experience.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert Breyer worked in Intel's Ethernet product groups in California and Oregon for several years. As a product marketing engineer for Ethernet semiconductors, he introduced Intel's first integrated 10BASE-T transceiver and was responsible for the LAN on Motherboard program, which integrated Ethernet directly on PCs. As a product line manager, he helped develop the concepts behind Intel's line of Flash adapters and brought the first 10/100Mbps PCI adapter to market. Robert then became the country manager for Intel in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was responsible for establishing and subsequently managing the Intel sales subsidiary. Robert has written papers and given numerous presentations on LAN technologies, assisted in numerous network installations, and participated in the MEE 10013ASE- T standardization process.

Sean Riley is currently the director of marketing for Intel's Networking Products in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. As a technical marketing engineer with Intel, Sean worked on several early versions of Ethernet silicon products. In 1993, Sean was involved in the High-Speed Working Group of the WEE and became a founding member of the IEEE 802.3u subcommittee which standardized 100BASE-T Fast Ethernet. Sean was also a key member of Intel's Fast Ethernet product development team at the time, where he led Intel into the Fast Ethernet Hub and Switch business. Sean has written a multitude of white papers and application notes on various networking technologies, including a chapter in the Gigabit Ethernet Handbook.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: An Overview of High Speed LAN Technologies

Ease of Migration

Ease of migration is probably the most important consideration in determining the best technology for upgrade. If you are building a new network from scratch, this section doesn't apply to you. If you already have a network that you are growing or that needs a performance boost, however, this section is probably the most important point to consider.

You need to leverage your existing investment as much as possible. This investment includes the hardware itself, but also the tools, and your knowledge of the technology itself.

To ensure an easy migration, ask yourself these five questions:

Can my cabling plant support the higher-speed networking technology?

Before you decide to purchase high-speed networking hardware, make sure you understand the capabilities of your existing cabling plant. Your investment in cable, conduits, wiring closets, and patch panels can exceed the cost of the networking hardware itself! You need to make sure your new high-speed networking gear can run on your existing wiring wherever possible. If that's not the case, factor in potentially huge additional costs for upgrading your cabling plant to accommodate the new LAN standard.

How do I boost performance of my existing clients and servers with minimum cost and disruption to my users?

Most LAN managers will want to keep as much of their existing equipment as possible because it's working, proven, and already paid for. Replacing equipment is always disruptive and time-consuming and should be avoided wherever possible. Replacing network adapters should be avoided at all cost, for example; whereas the price of a new NIC alone may not seem that high, the cost of installation, configuration, and associated user disruption often exceeds the cost of the NIC itself. If redesigning your network and replacing a single strategic hub instead can increase the performance of the network, choose that way.

You should avoid replacing equipment prematurely Networking gear is part of company's capital budget, meaning that the equipment needs to last for a period of five years before it is, in effect, paid for. Your accountants will tell you that replacing equipment before the five-year depreciation period is over can be prohibitively expensive because the equipment needs to be depreciated in one go for those purposes, which is a costly undertaking.

How do I connect new users or servers to the new network infrastructure?

When you add new users to your network, choose the best equipment available at the time. These new users will likely have faster machines, requiring a higher-speed network connection. Make sure the new technology scales to accommodate faster user and server connections.

How do I join a new section of my network with an older part?

New sections of your network will need to be seamlessly connected to your existing network. Think about how you are going to integrate the old and new sections. If you need to purchase additional hardware or software equipment, this will affect your overall cost. User disruption or server downtime should be minimized, if possible. Don't forget network management: Make sure your new networking gear can blend seamlessly into your existing network management map.

What happens to the replaced equipment? Can I use it somewhere else in my LAN?

Another point to consider when upgrading to a new high-speed LAN is' what to do with the old equipment. Often, new high-speed equipment is added one step at a time, replacing at least some existing equipment. Your cost analysis needs to reflect whether the replaced equipment can be used somewhere else or whether it becomes obsolete.

Understanding the Technology

Your technical understanding of a new technology needs to be a key part of deciding which hardware technology to migrate. If you buy something completely new, you and your network/IT staff will need to learn about the new technology before you can deploy it. A steep learning curve will accompany new technology, and years of familiarity will have to be relearned.

Maintaining a new technology presents its own set of challenges, too. You will need to buy and learn new network management and troubleshooting tricks and tools. Some people say that today's investment in IT is 20% hardware and software and 80% worker knowledge on how to use this hardware. Therefore, although it may sometimes seem to pay to buy something completely new, make sure the benefits outweigh the hidden costs.


Your technology should grow as your network continues to grow. Can you upgrade one more step or are you buying a technology that has reached its limits? Does your network design lend itself to further upgrades? Scalability, for example, can mean that the technology can support a higher speed, that you can upgrade from a shared-media environment to a faster point-to-point or switched environment, or that you can add different hubs somewhere on your network to improve the overall throughput capability.

Multivendor Support

Make sure as many vendors as possible support whatever you buy The following are some reasons why you should buy products manufactured by multiple vendors:

  • Lower prices - Multivendor support means you have choices, and the
  • Innovation - Choice means that your particular supplier needs to work harder to earn your dollars. Innovation is just as important as lower prices because it ensures that future products will provide more features, higher performance, and other improvements that will benefit you in the long run. The more vendors that support a technology, the more innovation there will be, as competitors need to innovate to differentiate their products.
  • Availability of the necessary building blocks-Today's network consists of many building blocks - chassis or stackable hubs and switches, bridges, routers, desktop, server and notebook NICs, MAUs, management software, and so on. No single vendor can supply all the building blocks, no matter what they tell you. Choosing technologies with broad vendor support means that you can buy all the building blocks you need for your network, not just some or most of them.


Most LAN hardware sold adheres to some industry standard, yet the quality standards vary. A good standard means that hardware vendors can build equipment that is truly interoperable. Interoperable means you can buy two pieces of hardware from two different vendors, you can connect the two devices together, and they will work without fine-tuning or detailed configuration work. To accomplish that, the standards documents must be clear, unambiguous, and, above all, leave little open to interpretation. A standard, however, needs to be open enough to enable vendors to add their own features to differentiate their products. In addition, a good standard needs to be respected, or authoritative. This means that vendors building products will actually go to the trouble of obtaining and understanding the standards documents and specifications before building products. Over-all, writing good standards takes experience and requires a good sense of balance....

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Table of Contents

Foreword from John Chambers, CEO of Cisco
Chapter 1 - The History of Ethernet
Chapter 2 - An Overview of High-Speed LAN Technologies
Chapter 3 - Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet Standards
Chapter 4 - Layer 2 Ethernet Switching
Chapter 5 - VLANs and Layer 3 Switching
Chapter 6 - Cabling and More on Physical
Chapter 7 - Bandwidth: How Much Is Enough?
Chapter 8 - Network Components
Chapter 9 - Deployment
Chapter 10 - Deployment Examples
Chapter 11 - Managing Switched, Fast, and
Chapter 12 - Troubleshooting
Epilogue - Fast-Track Future, by Kevin Tolly
Appendix A - Gigabit and Fast Ethernet Vendors
Appendix B - Further Reading
Appendix C - Useful Web Links
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2000

    The only Ethernet Reference of my Desktop....

    This book is amazing in the depth and clarity it provides. I do not have any other Ethernet reference and it has never failed me. From Manchester Encoding to VLANS, from Switching to Planning my network, it's your all-in-one reference. Recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2000

    Outstanding reference

    I was really pleased with both the information containted in this book as well as the manner in which it was presented. This book's organization makes it great for a 'cover-to-cover' read (on a VERY long weekend!) or for a quick reference check. If I could only have one Ethernet book on my shelf, this would be it.

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