By Ron Wilson, Editor-in-Chief, Altera Corporation
Ethernet is spreading—enemies might say metastasizing—into applications far beyond its original use as a local network for workstations. This spread is pushed forward by three primary factors: Ethernet’s culture of standardization and interoperability, reduced price of components because of economy of scale, and the rapid evolution of foundational signaling technology that culture makes possible. At the same time, Ethernet is being pulled into new applications by increasing computerization and the absence of robust common interconnect standards (Figure 1). This pull is coming from areas as diverse as automobiles, industrial controls, and cloud computing centers.
Ethernet’s standards culture is old and deep. The movement began, like so many other seminal ideas, with a development at Xerox’s legendary Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Ethernet replaced an unscalable spider web of two-wire serial interfaces, multiport switches, and delicate short-range parallel cables with a single shared co-axial cable on which all devices were peers. The appeal was irresistible.
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