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New to Ethernet

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Chris Cheung, Jan 28, 2004.

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  1. Chris Cheung

    Chris Cheung Guest

    Hi all,

    I need to design a device that talks to PC using gigabit ethernet. It
    is my first time to "touch" the ethernet stuff....Any suggestion in where
    should I start? Any good online documents / books for a ethernet newbie
    like me?


  2. Ian Stirling

    Ian Stirling Guest

    I'd go with looking at some chipsets for GE.
  3. Mac

    Mac Guest

    I would start with IEEE specification 802.3 (IIRC). It covers all types of
    ethernet up to gigabit ethernet. You should be able to find this on the
    IEEE website. It is not a free download, but I think it would be
    worthwhile for you to obtain.

    Probably what you will want to do is get a combination MAC/PHY. This is
    jargon for Media Access Controller/Physical Layer device. I believe that
    for gigabit ethernet, the interface is called GMII.

    The physical layer device is what actually connects to the wire. The MAC
    is a digital logic type device, and communicates using some kind of
    protocol, which you will have to learn about and use.

    In theory, you could drive the PHY directly, but this will be very

    Broadcom might be a good place to look for parts.

    Good luck!

  4. There are probably several "Understand Ethernet" books, but they're
    all second hand information and never complete. They're ok for an
    introduction, but Real Engineers(tm) go straight to the standard:

    You will need to know how to put e.g. IPv4 inside an Ethernet frame.
    The IETF has the information you need:
    RFC0948 (IPv4 over 802.3 and Ethernet II)
    RFC2464 (IPv6 over Ethernet) (You probably won't need IPv6)

    You will need (well, not really *need* but it sure makes things
    easier) a protocol stack. You can buy these, or write your own, or
    use a free one, or use the one that comes with the operating system
    your have on your embedded system.
    This will take care of all the low level software details in the above
    RFCs, etc.

    You will needs some hardware! I recommend any of the regular Ethenet
    PHY and MAC combinations. Follow the application notes carefully.
    E.g. Intel (Level One)

    Hmmm, you specified that it must be Gigabit Ethernet. Do you have
    throughput requirements?

  5. Actually, 802.3 IS a free download (all the IEEE 802.x docs are),
    although I believe you have to register. However, it may not be the best
    place for a newbie to start as it comes in at something around 1500
    pages. I do recommend getting it though, for reference.

    There are some much simpler docs around that give the fundamental
    concepts. Black Box has some intro tutorials on their site,
  6. Mac

    Mac Guest

    Thanks for letting me know. You used to have to order it. I guess IEEE has
    become more enlightened. Now I can check out the various 802.11x documents
    just for fun.


  7. Mac

    Mac Guest

    For some reason, when the OP wrote "device," I was thinking of an FPGA or
    something. If the "device" could be CPU-based, that would make things MUCH
    easier. The OP can probably find an eval board for some kind of embeddable
    computer that already boots an OS and has a working gigabit ethernet chip
    on it. Then the OP could just copy the eval board reference design (it's
    not cheating, they WANT you to copy it.)

    But if the "device" has to be simpler, then the MAC/PHY is the way to go.
    By the way, in this case, it will be pretty hard to get anything beyond a
    rudimentary UDP capability. TCP is probably out of the question for an
    FPGA. Which means no FTP, no HTTP, etc. All the more reason to use a CPU.

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