UPDATE: Cat-7 copper theorized to transmit 100 Gbps in excess of 100 meters using future modems PDF Print E-mail
By Rick C. Hodgin
Wednesday, November 14, 2007 11:22
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Pittsburgh (PA) - Penn State University professor of electrical engineering, Mohsen Kavehrad, has been researching the possibility of transmitting extremely high speed data over copper.  He's looking at 100 Gigabits per second on Category-7 wire at distances in excess of 100 meters.  Imagine a home or office network using inexpensive copper, one that could transmit over twelve complete Encyclopedia Britannicas per second.

While 70 meters is possible today, it's that last 30 meters which is just outside the reach of theoretical modern technology.  Future modems, which are not the boxes we think of, but are the equivalent of on-board chips modulating and demodulating the high speed signals, will be required before practical applications can be built which push copper so far.

Today, the theoretical limitations are with the 65nm process technology.  The internal semiconductor-based hardware mechanisms which drive signals over Cat-7 wire, which is basically a four twisted-pair heavy gauge wire with extra insulation, cannot work beyond 70 meters.  The limitations imposed by degradation, noise, data races per bit line, bounce, cross-over, and other factors, all conspire against the existing technology.  These result in limitations in just how fast an amplified data signal can be switched off and on with minimal digital waveform loss.

The research team is currently identifying the requirements to create an entirely new class of modems.  They're looking at what designs will be required to communicate beyond the 70 meter barrier.  They're actually hoping to exceed 100 meters with their design.  While the researchers conclude that this technology is not even theoretically possible today with 65nm technology, even under idea circumstances, it is believed that at the 32nm node, or possibly the 22nm node, it will be possible.  Those modem chips would be able to handle the signal switching with less bounce, less noise and ultimately without data loss.  This technology could be available as early as 2013.
UPDATE:  From the author, I think there are bigger benefits than are being seen.  Consider what this much throughput, over such a long distance, over one set of wires, means overall.  At these speeds, 12.5 GB/s per link, machines will be able to communicate with other machines and devices at speeds which are impossible today.  I think the true potential here is that the benefits of having an ability to transmit so much data, at such long lengths, at such high speeds, using such a simple technology, will open the doors to countless new uses that we haven't even dreamed of yet.  Technology will be looked at differently because there will be a new baseline.

One of the biggest possibilities I see is the use of a central, secure machine.  It will transmit multiple simultaneous streams of 1920 x 1440 video at 85 Hz using 32-bit color (940 MB/s), to allow remote desktop abilities on very simple portable devices.  The central machine will run many virtualized OSes, and instances of OSes, allowing any authenticated end-user to flip back and forth through the machines as necessary on a very low-power, low-performing portable device, while the big iron desktop machine does all the hard work in the background.  And multiple users can be fetching back to the main machine which is running all of this simultaneously.

Each user just needs to carry around their simple tablet-PC like device, the one with almost no processing power, no real memory to speak of, only a very small, secure version of Linux to handle screen, mouse, keyboard, sound, etc., I/O.  And then, no matter where the user goes in the home or office, hook in to that remote desktop ability and have an instantly responsive machine.  No delays in painting the screen, even full-framed 3D games can be streamed remotely.  Some kind of receiver device could receive that full-framed video data and then simplify it for wireless transmission if the need was required.

I personally believe the idea of having a secure machine, one which can be running and hosting however many virtual OSes are needed, running whatever kind of anti-virus software, etc., and then providing the remote ability to flip between them in real-time, is significant.

I see the 100 Gbps as another one of these amazing tools which are coming our way in the next few years.  It will join the ranks of Terascale-like processing, low-ower Moorestown-like platforms--which are basically MIDs with no tactile buttons where everything is touch-screen, WiMAX--which is always-on/always-connected broadband that goes with you no matter where you go, fully integrated 3D into the OS environment, etc.  All of these wizz-bang features will be there.  And 100 Gbps ethernet will simply be another one.
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Comments (21)Add Comment
cat 6 Nov 14, 2007 11:43 
Re: cat 6 Nov 14, 2007 12:38 
Re: Re: Cat 6 Nov 14, 2007 12:55 
100GB with sata Nov 14, 2007 14:35 
Why Nov 14, 2007 16:38 
Re:Rick Nov 14, 2007 16:52 
In my experience... Nov 14, 2007 19:19 
Future proofing Nov 14, 2007 20:00 
Also... Nov 14, 2007 20:13 
Cat6 is usually unnecessary... Nov 15, 2007 08:12 
DSL application Nov 15, 2007 09:33 

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