Client/Server, or distributed computing, is fast becoming the norm in today's industries. Mainframe processing is being phased out, and computer networks are taking over as the method for communicating a business's information.
Due to increases in processing power and storage capacity, the personal computer now has the ability to handle high quality graphics and complex multimedia applications. When these files are stored and shared on a network, transfers to and from clients leads to high utilisation of network resources.
Traditional networks operate between 4 and 16 Megabits per second (Mbps). More than 40% of all personal computers in the world are connected to an Ethernet network (International Data Corporation, 1996). Traditional Ethernet networks operate at 10Mbps. The other main network technology is Token Ring which runs at either 4 or 16Mbps. At these speeds companies that produce extremely large files, such as a medical centre or desktop publishing company, can experience long delays when sending such data across their network.
These delays have led to a need for High-Speed Networks. There are a number of different technologies available, including Fast-Ethernet, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), and Fibre Distributed Data Interface (FDDI).
Inside the Fast-Ethernet arena however, two separate technologies have emerged. One is known as 100Base-T, and is (simply) an extension of existing Ethernet technology, only running 10 times faster. It still uses Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) for transmission, and supports only Ethernet traffic. Companies supporting 100Base-T include 3Com, Intel and Synoptics.
The other technology is known as 100VG-AnyLAN, and this is supported by companies such as IBM, AT&T and Hewlett Packard. It does not use the same technology as standard Ethernet (CSMA/CD), instead it uses four pairs of wires to eliminate collisions from happening altogether.