What Is Dual Gigabit Ethernet LAN?
Computers are increasingly connected at home and in the office, and networked computers have supplanted the old-school mainframe as a fundamental business tool. Wireless networks are inexpensive and easy to implement, but cabled Ethernet offers significantly higher throughput. The highest-performance network cards often include a pair of gigabit connections for Ethernet, offering a number of possible uses.
Gigabit Ethernet Basics
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers maintains a number of international standards used in the electronics industry. One of them is the "802" family of networking standards, which includes the 802.11 wireless networking and 802.3 Ethernet standards. The earliest versions of the Ethernet protocol supported data transfer rates of up to 3 megabits per second. Later upgrades to the standard raised this to 10 Mbps, and later 100 Mbps. In 1998, the IEEE approved the 802.3Z standard, which made it possible for Ethernet speeds to increase to 1000 Mbps, or one gigabit per second. Ten-Gbps Ethernet is now available, and projected upgrades will raise the standard to a possible 400 Gbps.
Bonding Dual Gigabit Ethernet
Several of the highest-end gigabit Ethernet interface cards for computers include two connections. There are a number of potential uses for this configuration, depending on your enterprise's IT structure and operational needs. For example, where dual connectors are available for all computers on a given segment of your network, you can "bond" the two network interfaces. This enables your computers to view them as a single interface, using one gigabit connection to send and the other to receive. This arrangement effectively doubles your input to 2 Gbps if you're using gigabit cards, or 20 Gbps if you're using 10 GB cards. This can be useful for communicating between servers, or in other high-performance environments.
Computers with dual gigabit connections can also use them to connect simultaneously with different networks. There are a number of potential applications for this. For example, your computer could be connected simultaneously to a customer-accessible public network, and your own separate internal network. This not only improves security, it frees up all the bandwidth of your in-house network to handle your data infrastructure. In industrial applications, the second network could be constructed to control and monitor your manufacturing processes, providing efficient control of production while freeing bandwidth for the remainder of your network.
Dual gigabit Ethernet interface cards are targeted at the enterprise and other high-performance environments, and usually have a number of enhancements built in to take full advantage of the gigabit throughput. Some support the use of larger-than-normal data packets, which increase the effective throughput of your network. Others take over processing of TCP/IP network data, reducing the burden on your servers' and workstations' processors. Most have advanced buffering features to speed the card's data handling, and offer intelligent load balancing to help spread the workload between available computers.