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What is Gigabit Ethernet (GbE)?

Mar 17, 2023

Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), a transmission technology based on the Ethernet frame format and protocol used in local area networks (LANs), provides a data rate of 1 billion bits per second, or 1 gigabit (Gb). Gigabit Ethernet is defined in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.3 standard and is currently being used as the backbone in many enterprise networks.

Gigabit Ethernet connects computers and servers in local networks. Its improvements in data transfer speed and cabling have prompted many enterprises to replace Fast Ethernet with Gigabit Ethernet for wired local networks.

Gigabit Ethernet is carried on optical fiber or copper wire. Existing Ethernet LANs with 10 megabits per second and 100 Mbps cards can feed into a Gigabit Ethernet backbone.

Newer standards, such as 10 GbE, a networking standard that is 10 times faster than Gigabit Ethernet, are also emerging. Today, data centers and enterprises have a myriad of options of Gigabit Ethernet speeds, including 10 GbE, 20 GbE, 40 GbE and 100 GbE for core switching.

Gigabit Ethernet networks can function as half-duplex networks for shared media or as Ethernet switches with a switched full-duplex network.

Gigabit Ethernet uses the same 802.3 framing structure as standard Ethernet. It supports 1 Gb per second (Gbps) speeds using Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detect (CSMA/CD). CSMA/CD handles transmissions after a collision has occurred. The transmission rate may cause data packets to intersect when two devices on the same Ethernet network attempt to transmit data at the same time. CSMA/CD detects and discards collided data packets.

Gigabit Ethernet speeds are delivered by either copper or fiber optic cables. Fiber optic cables are needed for long-range transmissions of more than 300 meters (m). However, traditional Ethernet cables can transmit data at gigabit speeds over shorter distances -- in particular, Cat5e cables or above or the 1000Base-T cabling standard and above. Cat5e cable, for example, consists of four pairs of eight twisted wires in one cable.

Gigabit Ethernet is implemented in different cabling physical layer standards, including the following:

Gigabit Ethernet provides the following benefits:

As one of the most widely used LAN technologies, Ethernet was introduced in 1973 and has evolved over the years:

Learn more about 400 GbE and the effect it will have on enterprise networks in this article.

1000Base-CX. 1000Base-SX. 1000Base-LX. 1000Base-T. 1000BASE-T1. 1000BASE-TX. 1000BASE-KX. Reliability. Speed. Less latency. Transferring or streaming video data. Multiuser support.