News | May 18, 1999

Broadcom Demonstrates Gigabit Ethernet Chip for Existing Copper Cabling

Broadcom Corp. (Irvine CA), a developer of integrated circuits for broadband communications to the home and business, has begun delivering initial samples of the BCM5400 Gigabit Ethernet transceiver. The new silicon chip will enable manufacturers to develop networking equipment that delivers data at gigabit speeds (1000 Mbps) over Category 5 unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) copper wiring, which presently comprises over 80% of all enterprise network connections. The Irvine, CA-based vendor unveiled the new product last week at NetWorld+Interop '99 in Las Vegas.

The BCM5400 1000BASE-T transceiver is designed to comply with the proposed IEEE 802.3ab Gigabit Ethernet standard for Category 5 cabling. The BCM5400 is based on a digital signal processing (DSP) architecture that is designed to exceed the line quality and distance requirements of the 802.3ab specification, even on the existing standard grade Category 5 cabling.

1000BASE-T equipment will use existing Category 5 cabling without requiring a costly upgrade to fiber or enhanced copper cabling, which significantly reduces the cost and simplifies the upgrade to Gigabit speeds. The industry research firm Dell' Oro Group (Portola Valley, CA), predicts that more than 70% of the Gigabit Ethernet connections will be based on copper by the year 2001. The largest number of these connections will be to servers and high-end desktops, where Dell' Oro believes copper will outnumber fiber by an order of magnitude.

"The availability of 1000BASE-T technology from Broadcom is an important first step in the widespread deployment of Gigabit Ethernet over today's existing cabling infrastructure," said Bruce Tolley, 3Com business development manager and vice chair, events, Gigabit Ethernet Alliance. "Because no new cabling infrastructure is required to deploy Gigabit over Cat 5 copper, 1000BASE-T offers a tremendous cost savings.

"The impending availability of 1000BASE-T Ethernet, strongly complements 3Com's success in bringing 10/100 Mbps Ethernet to the desktop. It is a logical and cost-effective means of aggregating high-bandwidth desktop applications [and] will also create a new market for desktop applications of 1000BASE-T.."

Features of the BCM5400
The BCM5400 integrates an IEEE 802.3ab 1000BASE-T physical layer (PHY) transceiver and an IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-TX PHY transceiver into a single monolithic CMOS chip. Manufacturers also have the option of attaching the BCM5400 to Broadcom's existing BCM5201 transceiver to design standard-compliant, triple-speed 10/100/1000BASE-T equipment.

Common types of equipment that may use the BCM5400 include switches, adapter cards, uplink modules, and motherboards found in servers and commercial desktop PCs. An industry-standard 10-bit interface enables the device to attach to any equipment already designed for Gigabit Ethernet over fiber-optic cables without any additional changes.

In addition, the BCM5400 is fully compliant with the IEEE 802.3z Gigabit Media Independent Interface (GMII) standard for Gigabit Ethernet, providing compatibility with all industry-standard Ethernet media access controllers (MACs) and application specific integrated circuits (ASICs).