In The Labs: 100 Gbps Over Copper

[qi:027] Copper, some telecom insiders joke, is like a cockroach – it never dies and keeps coming back. Someone always comes up with a way to use the copper in a new sort of a way. When we are all dreaming of a fiber to the home future, there comes an Australian academic who says that it is possible to send 250 Gigabits megabits per second over copper-based telephone lines.

And if that sounded incredulous, now engineers at Penn State University are claiming that it is possible to send 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) over a distance of 100 meters using Category-7 (CAT7) cables that have four pairs of twisted copper wires inside. CAT7 cables were created to send data at speeds of 10 Gbps over 100 meters.

Penn State researchers presented this new technology in from of IEEE High Speed Study Group in Atlanta yesterday. The researchers developed transmitters and receivers that tried to overcome technical challenges such as crosstalk and interference.

These Category-7 copper cables used in the experiment are made by Nexans, a Paris-based company. They are being touted as the next generation Ethernet cables. More common Ethernet cables are called Cat5 cables. Penn State researches believe that sometime in the near future, it would be possible to build very high-speed local area networks and parallel computers.

When will this technology come to market? Lets just say by the time I would have lost all my remaining hair.

The researchers believe that two or three generations in the future, the technology of chip circuitry will allow these modem designs to be built. Currently, chip design is at about 65 nanometers, but they expect in the next two generations to get to what is required


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