SolarFlare Communications Realizes Worldís First Transceiver Delivering 10 Gbps Ethernet Traffic Over Cat 5e Copper Cable

SolarFlare Communications Inc., a developer of high-performance semiconductor products for physical-layer connectivity, has created a demonstrable, complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS)-based transceiver that is capable of sustained 10 gigabits-per-second (Gbps) operation over industry-standard Category 5e (Cat5e) copper cable.†

Cat5e is the cable type most frequently used to interconnect computers, switches, and routers in Ethernet networks.

†ìTodayís 10Gbps Ethernet links are implemented with either very expensive optical-fiber transceivers or with cumbersome, short-reach, twinax coaxial cables,î said Ron Cates, SolarFlareís vice president of marketing.

ìThe advent of a transceiver capable of operation over the installed base of Cat5e cable defies industry experts who claimed it couldnít be done and promises to dramatically lower the costs of 10Gbps Ethernet deployment and increase its utilization in enterprise computing networks and data centers.î†

SolarFlareís transceiver uses industry-standard CMOS fabrication technology and proprietary signal-processing algorithms that improve data recovery and mitigate noise in copper wires so that they can support higher data rates.†

The transceiver is designed to operate over Cat5e, Cat6, or Cat7 cables with lengths up to 100 meters.††

ìWhile several companies have speculated about the possibility, and even showed feasibility through simulations, I am incredibly proud to say the SolarFlare team is the first to demonstrate 10Gbps operation over long distances of copper cable with real hardware,î said Russell Stern, SolarFlareís CEO.

† ìThis achievement marks a major milestone and will significantly boost the initiatives that SolarFlare and other Ethernet industry leaders are taking in formulating an industry standard for 10 Gigabit Ethernet transmission over twisted-pair copper cable under the auspices of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.3 committee.î

ìSolarFlareís ability to implement 10Gbps-over-twisted-pair cabling represents the fourth generation of Ethernet transceivers that have historically catalyzed the adoption of a faster version of Ethernet by removing the need to deploy expensive optical fiber infrastructure in enterprise networks,î said Greg McAdoo, formerly with Cisco Systems and now a partner with Sequoia Capital — one of SolarFlareís lead investors.

The SolarFlare 10Gbps Transceiver digital signal processor (DSP) is a mixed analog and digital single-chip device fabricated with 0.13-micron CMOS technology and housed in a 600-pin ball grid array (BGA) package.

Designed in-house and containing in excess of four million logic gates, the transceiver was designed to enable high-volume production in a customer-owned tooling (COT) flow.†

The device is capable of direct interface to existing 10Gigabit Ethernet media access controllers (MACs) and uses a standard management data input/output (MDIO) control bus.