10gigabit ethernet over CAT5e

EpsilonVaz

Member
Hello,

Has anyone any experience with 10G Ethernet over CAT5e? I know that officially they are only certified for 1G, but can have some more throughput if it's pushed. I was wondering what real world speeds were achieved?

I ask because, my house is wired with CAT5e and I have BT's 330mb FTTP (live in a new build estate), I've heard that plans are coming closer for 1gbps FTTP, so obviously that would max out my home network instantly and I'd not be getting full use of the internet speed with no spare overhead.

Cheers!
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
...I've heard that plans are coming closer for 1gbps FTTP, so obviously that would max out my home network instantly.

I jest of course, but that's presuming the Internet has infinite bandwidth and all the web sites you use can supply the data as fast as you can consume it! I quite often find myself asking "what do people need all this speed for...?" Even with my "mere" 30mbps Internet service, I can't think of any occasions when I thought it wasn't fast enough, even when downloading big stuff like O/S's Still, my personal philosophies don't address your question so...

I've only used 10GBe over fibre, but IMS - I've read that 10GBe should work over cat5e, but at reduced distance from the "normal" 100m length that 10/100/1000 is certified to. The figure of 37m springs to mind, but I'd need to do a bit of Googling to confirm. Any idea what your lobe (cable) lengths are..?

If I were to try 10GBe over cat5e UTP, I'd want to keep an eye on the error rates on the links if the kit reports such (esp. dropped and malformed packets) especially if I was pushing the envelope a bit in terms of lobe length. Ethernet either works full speed or it doesn't work at all, there's no sense of it "slowing down" because of poor infrastructure. What can happen when it goes wrong, is one gets increased incidence of the aforementioned dropped or malformed packets which can affect throughput at the application level (for example a file copy) as the higher level protocols in the networking model have to ask for the missing data to be retransmitted which makes it "feel" like it's going slower when you're watching the progress bar.
 
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maf1970

Well-known Member
It can be done but requires alot of work -

If you use Cat5 or Cat5e, the distance is much shorter depending on the quality of your cable, typically less than 40 metres and would probably need testing for assured reliability.

It would probably be quicker and cheaper to get all the cabling upgraded to Cat 6 by a cabling company. If doing so remember that all network leads would have to be upgraded to cat 6 ones as well.

Given that BT are miles behind with their fibre roll-out and the cost of 10Gbe hardware is still very very expensive so I wouldn't hold my breath about the speed increase. Also not everyone is connected at the same speed to the internet. Just because you have the latest tech and the fastest speed does not mean that everyone else does.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
I ask because, my house is wired with CAT5e and I have BT's 330mb FTTP (live in a new build estate), I've heard that plans are coming closer for 1gbps FTTP, so obviously that would max out my home network instantly and I'd not be getting full use of the internet speed with no spare overhead.

Agreeing with everything re mickevh has said about the speed of the other side of the Internet but assuming you could sustain 1Gbps it's not going to max your home network out. Your switch will generally work out the full throughput so if you 8 port switch then you usually have 8Gbps of switching capability meaning other things can still send\receive data. Now let's say you are downloading a large file to your server, which happens to be sharing content etc. for your network. In theory this could swamp the network connector for that in which case you could just get another network card and use that as a secondary port to effectively open more bandwidth. Depending on the particular method you might need a new switch but it will still be a damn sight cheaper as its going to cost you the best part of a grand to start talking on 10Gbe.

Re maf1970 I would say that unless you have a large house then most network cables would be under 40metres long. I have a combination of CAT5, 6 and shielded (for different reasons) and my longest length is ~25m so should be ok if I wanted to upgrade.

I currently have the 152Mb service from Virgin which according to Speedtest (on a Virgin Server :facepalm:) is giving me 160Mb. However in real use I can sometimes get that depending on what I am doing but more than often I am restricted by Virgin's pipe or the end provider of the content.
 

Kristian

Well-known Member
Why do you think you'll need 10Gb on the LAN if your ISP offers 1Gb?

Officially, 10Gb runs over Cat6 up to around 55m without any bundles of cable iirc (and 35m if bundled), and on Cat6a to 100m. 10GBASE-T makes use of transmissions of 500MHz which needs better cable. You might get it running over short distances on Cat5e but check the counters on the switch and NIC for any errors, or run a proper tester if you have one.
 

EpsilonVaz

Member
Thanks for your replies, I've learned a lot from them. My understanding was that the switches could only handle a maximum of 1gbps, which was wrong.

My cable lengths wont be more than 25m I think, if that, unfortunately they're all behind the plaster, so it would be a real mess to change them over.

First world problems eh!
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Switching capacity is the sort of thing that IT professionals "worry" about when they are designing networks and selecting equipment. We'd be looking at numbers like how many "packets per second (PPS)" any given switch can route across it's internal backplane - sometimes this is expressed as a measure of aggregate "bandwidth" instead of/as well as PPS. It's one of the many facets of data networking that use a metric of "bits per second." However, not all things measured in bps are the "same" kind of thing. (For example, look to the way many people confuse the "speed" of a network link, which should correctly be called it's "link rate" and the "bandwidth" (capacity.)) Many people read "speed" and incorrectly interpret as "bandwidth" instead of "link rate."

Way back when, it was not uncommon for ethernet switches (especially big 24/48 port monsters) to have less capacity for processing traffic than would be required if all it's ports were transmitting/receiving at full capacity simultaneously (something that in reality, rarely happens - most network traffic is "bursty.") So switching capacity was a consideration when selecting brand A over brand B. However, in realm of 10/100/1000 switches, it been quite a while now since this was an issue as most modern switches - even basic "desktop" ones - have the horsepower to handle all ports at full capacity. One used to see these marketed as "wirespeed" switches - nowadays we tend to take it for granted. By way of example example, an 8 port 10/100/1000 switch might be cited as having 16gbps switching capacity (8 times 1gbps times 2 (since ports both transmit and receive at the same time) - though strictly this is a bit of an oversimplification.)

I always think a key to understanding SOHO networks, is not to have a conceptual model based on pipework and/or plumbing. It's more like the postal system. Data travels around in discrete little units call packets, like letters in the post. In an ethernet network, switches are like the sorting office and (also) each lobe (cable) in the network functions independently of all the others. Inside the switch (sorting office) we need to make sure there's enough processing power (posties) to handle the total volume of mail that could be passing through if all the ingress/egress routes (ports) are running full tilt. As discussed, for modern 10/100/1000 switches, that's usually the case, so we don't (much) need to worry about it.
 
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