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What is GbE?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
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Ethernet cabling is used to hard-wire local area networks (LANs), and gigabit Ethernet (GbE) is a set of Ethernet standards with a minimum data transfer speed of 1-gigabit per second (gbps). This is equivalent to 1,000 megabits per second (mbps), thereby surpassing previous FastEthernet and original Ethernet speeds of 100 mbps and 10 mbps respectfully. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) sets the standards for Ethernet technologies. This allows manufacturers to make networking hardware and software that is compliant with uniform "flavors" of Ethernet. There are four such flavors of GbE.

As outlined in IEEE’s 802.3z and 802.3ab standards, GbE uses one of two types of optical fiber, twisted pair, or copper cabling, though the latter is legacy technology. Of the optical cabling used, there is multi-mode and single-mode cable. The difference lies in how signals are transmitted through the lines.

Each GbE standard is designated by an abbreviated name. The “1000” refers to the speed of 1,000 mbps. “Base” is short for baseband, and the two initials at the end point to the type of cabling technology used. The abbreviations are as follows:

  • 1000Base-LX – GbE using longwave laser over dual multi or single-mode optical fiber cables
  • 1000Base-SX – GbE using shortwave laser over dual multi or single mode optical fiber cables
  • 1000Base-TX – GbE using four pairs of unshielded twist pair cables rated Category 5
  • 1000Base-CX – GbE using two pairs of shielded twisted pair cables

Category 5 cable, sometimes called Cat-5, is labeled as such by the manufacturer. There are various categories of cables based on their technical specifications. Sometimes, the designation of 1000Base-X is used as a generic inclusive reference to GbE without specification as to type or cabling.

GbE cabling is effective over defined distances, so the length of cable required for a particular LAN might necessitate a specific flavor of GbE. Some laptops and motherboards are already incorporating GbE for built-in capability. GbE has already been surpassed by 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE). This flavor of Ethernet is 10x faster than 1-GbE, and is sometimes referred to as XGbE.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By kangaBurg — On Jul 02, 2011

@anon8171 – Traditionally, a web site is a collection of one or more web pages under the same URL. They usually focus on the same topic or serve the same purpose. A web site must be found either by typing the URL (its web address) in your browser’s address bar, or by clicking a link present on another website.

By contrast, a portal (or web portal) is sort of a gateway page, from which you can get to other web sites. A portal shows information from several online sources in a unified way. Most portals have a series of links divided into categories like sports, science, games, and so on. Clicking a category title takes you to the category page, which lists hundreds or thousands of web sites focused on that topic.

Most portals also have a search engine feature, allowing you to search the internet for anything you desire. Web sites rarely have this function, if ever.

By anon132266 — On Dec 06, 2010

1000BASE-TX is a standard that uses CAT-6 cable for two twisted pair wires for phyical link. This standard is not used in the industry due to the cost of CAT-6, but gets confused with 1000BASE-T which is a standard that used four pairs of twisted pairs wires of the CAT-5 for a physical link.

By anon8171 — On Feb 09, 2008

What is the difference between a web site and a portal? What different roles can the portal play to impact business ?

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