New Broadcom chip runs from 10Mbps to 10Gbps

Broadcom's transceiver can support four different Ethernet speeds

Broadcom last week introduced a transceiver that can support the widest range of Ethernet speeds possible, from 10Mbps Ethernet to 10 Gigabit Ethernet - all over unshielded twisted pair wiring.

The chip can autonegotiate among four different speeds of Ethernet: 10Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps and 10Gbps. Broadcom claims this is the only device in the industry that is able to do that.

Would you need such a broad range? Perhaps, if you were plugging an ancient device running at 10Mbps into a switch port one day and then connecting that port to a supercharged 10Gbps server the next. That's probably an unlikely scenario - but if nothing else, Broadcom gets points for completeness, covering all the possibilities in one chip.

The chip includes integrated cable-diagnostic capabilities, which Broadcom says allows an IT manager to analyze the quality of a cable from a remote location.

At 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the chip can send signals 100 meters over Category 6A or Category 7 cables. Copper-based 10 Gigabit Ethernet is viewed as an up-and-coming technology, as Gigabit Ethernet connections to desktops become more common and businesses look to 10 Gigabit for server and data center connections.

This is the latest in a string of 10 Gigabit Ethernet-related chip announcements of late; for example, I've written recently about others from Fujitsu and Aquantia and Solarflare.

The new chip is made using 65-nanometer CMOS technology, allowing for highly integrated chips that consume less power. Last fall, Broadcom shipped its first Gigabit Ethernet switch chips based on 65-nanometer CMOS.

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