IEEE study group tackles Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet - Lightwave

IEEE study group tackles Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet

Lightwave Staff

The IEEE has announced the IEEE 802.3 Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet PHY study group, which will examine the formation of a new standard through which the number of twisted copper pairs currently required to support Gigabit Ethernet can be reduced. The primary target application is automotive wiring. If successful, the effort could dampen the market for plastic optical fiber, which has seen use in such applications.

The global automotive industry has started to embrace Ethernet as a networking technology for uses ranging from backbones for all data services to “infotainment” to driver assistance to vehicle control systems such as those used in brakes, suspension, and transmission. The current 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet specification calls for four wire pairs. Reducing the number of wire pairs thus would reduce the size and weight of Ethernet wiring in a vehicle.

Considering the market demand and technology requirements of achieving such performance gains via the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet and IEEE 802.1 Audio/Video Bridging standards, the new IEEE 802.3 study group will explore the potential for an IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standards project to define a Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet PHY.

“With a tremendous expansion in the number of Ethernet nodes in automobiles forecasted, the efficiencies to be realized in reducing wire pairs to achieve Gigabit Ethernet networking speeds will be of growing importance to that industry,” said Steve Carlson, chairperson of the IEEE 802.3 Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet PHY Study Group and president of High Speed Design, Inc.

Added Dr. Kirsten Matheus, project manager for Ethernet IP and strategy at BMW, “The automotive industry is moving full-speed towards Ethernet-based in-car networking. A reduced-pair Gigabit Ethernet standard suitable for automotive use is the missing link toward the flexible, scalable, and future-proof networking technology we would like to deploy. We are excited at the prospect of this IEEE 802.3 activity.”

Interested individuals are invited to contribute to the new IEEE 802.3 Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet PHY study group, which is scheduled to meet at the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Interim Session, May 14-18, 2012, at the Hilton Minneapolis. More information can be found on the study group’s Web page at

The current limitations of copper-based approaches in automotive networks has opened a market for plastic optical fiber. European car manufacturers, such as Daimler Benz, in particular have adopted the technology, according to market researchers such as Information Gatekeepers Inc. It seems likely that a more efficient way to use copper might hamper plastic optical fiber’s prospects for more widespread use by other automotive companies.

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