Gigabit Ethernet

What Does Gigabit Ethernet Mean?

Gigabit Ethernet is a version of the Ethernet technology broadly used in local area networks (LANs) for transmitting Ethernet frames at 1 Gbps. It is used as a backbone in many networks, particularly those of large organizations. Gigabit Ethernet is an extension to the preceding 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps 802.3 Ethernet standards. It supports 1,000 Mbps bandwidth while maintaining full compatibility with the installed base of around 100 million Ethernet nodes.


Gigabit Ethernet usually employs optical fiber connection to transmit information at a very high speed over long distances. For short distances, copper cables and twisted pair connections are used.

Gigabit Ethernet is abbreviated as GbE or 1 GigE.

Techopedia Explains Gigabit Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet was developed by Dr. Robert Metcalf and introduced by Intel, Digital and Xerox in the early 1970s. It quickly became a larger LAN technology system for information and data sharing worldwide. In 1998, the first Gigabit Ethernet standard, labeled 802.3z, was certified by the IEEE 802.3 Committee.

Gigabit Ethernet is supported by five physical layer standards. The IEEE 802.3z standard incorporates 1000 BASE-SX for data transmission via multimode optical fiber. In addition, the IEEE 802.3z includes 1000 BASE-LX over single-mode fiber and 1000 BASE-CX via copper cabling for transmission. These standards use 8b/10b encoding, but the IEEE 802.3ab, known as interface type 1000BASE-T, uses a different encoding sequence for transmission over twisted pair cable.

Gigabit Ethernet offers the following benefits over regular 10 to 100 Mbps Ethernet:

  • Transmission rate is 100 times greater
  • Reduces bottleneck problems and enhances bandwidth capacity, resulting in superior performance
  • Offers full-duplex capacity that can provide virtually doubled bandwidth
  • Offers cumulative bandwidth for faster speed by employing gigabit server adapters and switches
  • Quality of service (QoS) features reduced latency problems and offers better video and audio services
  • Highly affordable to own
  • Compatible with existing installed Ethernet nodes
  • Transfers a large amount of data quickly

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.