Cisco Systems plans next year to enable its Catalyst switch family to support the switching of Gigabit Ethernet speeds over copper wires, enabling enterprises to improve network speeds without costly upgrades to fibre, according to Cisco.
The company hopes to offer the products when copper support becomes available in a wide range of form factors next year.
The initial implementation would be fixed-configuration systems. But the company plans to eventually extend copper support to more modular Gigabit Ethernet Converter interfaces for greater expandability.
The company also plans to expand its Catalyst 4000 LAN switch line in 2000 to support the processing of voice calls. Currently a Layer 2-only product, the system will also support Layer 3 switching, according to the company.
Advantages of Layer 3 switching include faster and less expensive data movement than traditional routing because switching occurs in hardware rather than software.
`The big benefit [of Gigabit Ethernet over copper] is cost,' said Dave Passmore, research director at NetReference, a network consulting company in Virginia. The elimination of an electrical-to-optical transceiver cuts as much as $US100 off the cost of a network interface card, he said.