difference between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet

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What is the difference between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet?

In computer networks, Ethernet refers to a set of standards and equipment that allows a device to connect to a local area network (LAN) and other devices in the network at high speed. With the advancement of technology, more speed was needed for local area networks. That’s why the Society of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) upgraded the Ethernet standard in several steps.

Different types of standards have been developed over the past decades. IEEE started with IEEE 802.3 – Ethernet standard under the IEEE 802 protocol suite. The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard supports data rates equivalent to 10 Mbps (Mbps).

With the advancement of technology, 10 Mbps was no longer enough for a local area network. That’s why IEEE upgraded Ethernet to IEEE 802.3u, or Fast Ethernet, and then to IEEE 802.3z, or Gigabit Ethernet.

What is Fast Ethernet?

Fast Ethernet is an upgraded version of the original Ethernet that provides speeds of up to 100 Mbps. This increase in speed through Ethernet connection is made possible by reducing the bit time (the time it takes for a bit to transmit) to 0.01 microseconds. The IEEE also typically uses 100BASE-Tx / Rx. 100 stands for 100 Mbps and Base stands for Baseband Signals. Below are the types of this standard and the physical specifications of each of them:

  • Standard 100Base-T4 – Twisted pair cable, handle 3 UTP, with a maximum length of 100 meters
  • Standard 100Base-TX – Twisted pair cable, 5 UTP or STP handle, with a maximum length of 100 meters at a speed of 100 Mbps on both sides
  • 100Base-FX – Fiber Optic Cable – Maximum piece length 2000 m at 100 Mbps on both sides

The 100Base-T4 can use four pairs of different twisted pair cables from the UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pairs) category 3. Three pairs in both directions and one pair for CS / CD. This standard uses a 25 MHz signal encoded with 8B / 6T. The gap between frames has been reduced from 9.6 microseconds on Ethernet to 960 nanoseconds. The maximum distance between two stations is 200 meters with a hub connected in the middle of the road.

The 100Base-TX uses two pairs of twisted pair cables. One pair to send and another pair to receive.

100Base-FX is intended for fiber optic network. There are two cables for sending and receiving. This standard uses FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) technology to convert 4B / 5B to NRZI code.

What is Gigabit Ethernet?

With the further development of Ethernet, the IEEE introduced IEEE 802.3z or Gigabit Ethernet in February 1997. Although Gigabit Ethernet uses the same CSMA / CD and Ethernet frame format, there are significant differences, such as slot time. As the name implies, Gigabit Ethernet provides data exchange speeds of 1000 Mbps in full-duplex and half-duplex. Below are the types of this standard and the physical specifications of each of them:

  • Standard 1000Base-SX – fiber optic, maximum piece length 550 meters, short wavelength
  • Standard 1000Base-LX – fiber optic, maximum piece length 5000 m, long wavelength
  • Standard 1000Base-CX – two pairs of STP, maximum piece length 25 meters
  • Standard 1000Base-T – four UTP pairs, maximum piece length 100 meters

What is the difference between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet?

  • The maximum speed of Fast Ethernet is equal to 100 Mbps, while in Gigabit Ethernet this speed reaches 1000 Mbps.
  • Due to the higher Gigabit Ethernet bandwidth, it is expected to have better performance and fewer vulnerabilities than Fast Ethernet.
  • Upgrading from Ethernet to Fast Ethernet is easy and less expensive than upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet.
  • In Gigabit Ethernet, you need special network equipment to achieve a data rate of 1000 Mbps.
  • Devices that connect to Gigabit Ethernet need to be configured somewhat manually. Most devices connected to Fast Ethernet, on the other hand, are configured automatically.

See also NAT and NAPT What The Difference

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