Fast Ethernet vs. Gigabit Ethernet 1
Fast Ethernet vs. Gigabit Ethernet 1

Ethernet is a system used to connect the multiple systems to develop a LAN (Local Area Network). Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, both are used to accomplish this purpose. But some differences arise on the matter of coverage, speed and configuration. The purposes of this article are to educate IT professionals about the fundamental differences between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet.

Comparison Chart

Basis Fast Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Speed Provide 100 Mbps speed. Offers 1 Gbps speed.
Coverage Can cover distance up to 10 km. Has the limit of 70 km.
Configuration Simple Complicated and create more errors.
Delay Generate more delay. Less comparatively.
Round trip delay 100-500 bit times 4000 bit times
Relation Successor of 10-Base-T Ethernet. A successor of fast Ethernet.

What is Fast Ethernet?

Fast Ethernet is a term of Ethernet in computing networking, stands for carrying on the traffic at the rate of 100 Mbit per second. Usual speed of Ethernet is 10 Mbit/s. In 1995, first time Fast Ethernet was introduced which remained operative for three years until overruled by Gigabit Ethernet. Fast Ethernet was upgraded by improving the speed and reducing the bit.

In standard Ethernet, bit was transmitted in one second and in Fast Ethernet it takes 0.01 microsecond for one bit to transmit. So, 100Mbits means transferring speed of 100 Mbit per second. With the increase in eCommerce, teleconferencing and videoconferencing, demands for Fast Ethernet has also been raised because it is capable of downloading, uploading and processing massive amount of data with super fast network speed. During the introduction of Fast Ethernet, IEEE 802.3u was the standard that has been now transformed with the 100BASE-T. 100BASE-T can be any twisted pair cables. Along with copper wires, the optical fiber is also used for Fast Ethernet with the based standard 100BASE-FX.

Fast Ethernet

Both of these runs on optical fiber cable or unshielded twisted pair cable (UTP) in a star network where are cables are connected to a central hub just like 10BASE-T. Fast Ethernet delivers the more compatibility options with already prevailed 10BASE-T systems and enables the plug-and-play upgrades from the 10BASE-T as well. Due to the support of 100BASE-X, Fast Ethernet sometimes directly referred to it. The X in the 100BASE-X stand for the placeholder for the FX and TX variants. The word 100 in the 100BASE-X specify the transmission speed in the Fast Ethernet that means Fast Ethernet can transfer data at the speed of 100 Mbit/s. The word BASE stands for the baseband signaling that has a very narrow signal frequency. The FX and TX variants show the physical medium or cables that carry the signal while the letter X and 4 tell about the encoding method. It is very easy to understand the Fast Ethernet if information about 100BASE-T and 100BASE-FX be taken in advance. Both these works as a formula of Fast Ethernet.

What is Gigabit Ethernet?

Gigabit Ethernet is another term of Ethernet in a computing network, for carrying on the traffic at the rate of 1000 Mbit per second. It was introduced in 1999, just after three years of Fast Ethernet. Gigabit Ethernet gains popularity in 2010 and since they are being used widely.

It performs in the same wired LAN, in which Fast Ethernet operates but Gigabit Ethernet performed faster than Fast Ethernet. Three different kinds of layer Optical Fiber/OF (1000BASE-X), Twisted Pair Cable/TPC (1000BASE-T) or Shielded Balanced Copper Cable/SBCC (1000BASE-CX, all having five physical layers or used for Gigabit Ethernet.

Gigabit Ethernet maximum network limit is 70 km if Single Mode Fiber (1,310 nm wavelength) is used as a medium. Gigabit Ethernet is expensive than Fast Ethernet but is gaining popularity day by day. Gigabit Ethernet provides a more enhanced and faster network to the user as compared to the traditional Fast Ethernet. It supports almost all operating systems and devices that support the internet. Gigabit Ethernet is suitable for a faster transfer rate.

Gigabit Ethernet

It increases the speed and minimize the transfer speed and enable the users to enjoy the streaming at high bandwidth rates without interaction from the external devices. Gigabit Ethernet was introduced with the support of based standard of IEEE 802.3-2008. Now the Gigabit Ethernet utilizes the five physical layer standard for Gigabit Ethernet using the either 1000BASE-T twisted pair cable, 1000BASE-X optical fiber and 1000BASE-CX shielded balanced copper cable.

All these standards use the 8b/10 b encoding system that inflates the lien rate by 25% from 1000 Mbit/s to 1250 Mbit/s. This fast transfer speed ensures the DC balanced signal. At present there are almost eleven type of Gigabit Ethernet – 1000BASE-CX, 1000BASE-KX, 1000BASE-SX, 1000BASE-LX, 1000BASE-LX10, 1000BASE-EX, 1000BASE-ZX, 1000BASE-BX-10, 1000BASE-T and 1000BASE-TX – that utilizes the different medium for the specified distance.

The minimum is 25 meters that can be extended up to the 70 km subject to the medium for the Gigabit Ethernet. Today Gigabit Ethernet is the widely used network system that provides more speed as compared to the Faster Ethernet because now it has been evolved into physical and link layer protocols.

Key Differences between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet

  1. Gigabit Ethernet is more advanced technology than Fast Ethernet having a speed of 1000 Mbit/s, 10 times more than the speed of Fast Ethernet, which is 100 Mbit/s.
  2. Due to more bit transfer speed and higher bandwidth, Gigabit Ethernet results in better performance than Fast Ethernet.
  3. Gigabit Ethernet is more expensive than Fast Ethernet. Upgrading of Fast Ethernet from Standard Ethernet is easy and cost effective while upgrading of Gigabit Ethernet from Fast Ethernet is complex and expensive.
  4. Configuration problems in Gigabit Ethernet are more complex than Fast Ethernet. Devices used in Gigabit Ethernet must have the same configuration to function fully. While in Fast Ethernet, connected devices configure automatically with the system.
  5. Every network can support 100 Mbit/s but cannot support 1000 Mbit/s. So, a specific network is required that can support the Gigabit Ethernet.
  6. Maximum length of 10 km network can be achieved in Fast Ethernet if 100BASE-LX10 version is being used. While 70 km network length can be achieved in Gigabit Ethernet if Single Mode Fiber (1,310 nm wavelength) is being used as a medium.
  7. Faster Ethernet runs on both optical fiber cable and unshielded twisted pair cable. Gigabit Ethernet runs on either 1000BASE-T twisted pair cable, 1000BASE-X optical fiber or 1000BASE-CX shielded balanced copper cable.
  8. Fast Ethernet is economical but provides the slow transfer speed as compared to the Gigabit Ethernet that provides the faster transfer rate but is very expensive. The ports of Gigabit Ethernet cost four times the price per port of Fast Ethernet.
  9. IEEE Standard for Gigabit Ethernet is IEEE 802.3-2008 and the IEEE Standards for Fast Ethernet are 802.3u-1995, 802.3u-1995 and 802.3u-1995.
  10. Upgrade from simple Ethernet to Fast Ethernet is relatively simple and economical as compared to the upgrade from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet.
  11. Gigabit Ethernet requires specifically designed network devices that can support the standard 1000Mbps data rate. Fast Ethernet requires no specific network devices.
  12. Manual configuration is the must-have element in the setup of Gigabit Ethernet where most of the devices required prior configuration in order to be compatible with Gigabit Ethernet. While in Fast Ethernet there is no scene of configuration as connected devices automatically configured according to the requirement of Fast Ethernet.
  13. If you need the more bandwidth then Gigabit Ethernet will provide you the more bandwidth at the best possible frequency as compared to the Fast Ethernet.
  14. Fast Ethernet was introduced in 1995 and Gigabit Ethernet was introduced in 1999.