Power Electronics

IEEE Ratifies PoE Standard; Interoperability Tests to Begin


Edited by PETech Staff

IEEE Ratifies PoE Standard; Interoperability Tests to Begin

Finally, years of work have paid off. Last month, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) ratified the Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard 802.3af-2003, which defines the specifications to deliver power over standard Ethernet cables. Approved by the IEEE Standards board on June 12, 2003, it’s expected to be published this month.

"The 802.3af standard will provide the first global standard for power," said Steve Carlson, chair of the 802.3af Task Force. "Thousands of new and innovative products will emerge to take advantage of having the proven robustness and reliability of Ethernet along with power on the same connector. In 10 years, no one will be able to remember when Ethernet ports didn't supply power."

According to Richard Webb, market analyst at Infonetics Research, "The 802.3af standard provides a stable basis from which vendors can continue to reduce the cost of installing and upgrading network devices; this can be a hidden cost in the deployment and scaling-up of wireless LANs and VoIP in particular, and so improves the investment case for both these technologies.

"The standard ratification will add extra impetus to the current trend amongst silicon vendors to design chipsets for laptops and portables that require low power consumption below the 12.95W prescribed in the PoE standard," said Amir Lehr, vice president, business development and strategic planning at PowerDsine. "As these devices become less power-hungry and PoE becomes the standard in most corporate IT environments, there will no longer be a need for business people to carry a variety of different plugs when traveling. Instead, the RJ45 jack will become the universal power jack. I confidently predict that in the next five years, more than 75% of enterprise network devices will be able to be powered by Ethernet."

Meanwhile, based on the new standard, major proponents like PowerDsine, Linear Technology, Maxim Integrated Products, and Texas Instruments continue to release products for this application. Others such as Intersil and Micrel are in the development mode. More are expected to join this fray. Consequently, in an effort to improve performance of PoE products supporting the new IEEE 802.3af standard, the University of New Hampshire’s InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) announced that multi-vendor PoE testing will be held August 4-8 at their facility in Durham, N.H. Member companies of the PoE consortium expected to participate include 3Com, Extreme Networks, Nortel Networks, PowerDsine, and Texas Instruments.

This PoE Group Test Period gives participating vendors the opportunity to test their PoE equipment in a small, neutral setting. Problems discovered during testing can be repaired immediately, rather than after products have been released to market. Providing interoperability and parametric testing, the UNH-IOL offers valuable feedback to vendors and the chance to examine interoperability with other implementations. The testing also allows UNH-IOL student engineers the opportunity to apply their knowledge and interact with the new technology.

According to Gerard Nadeau, manager of the UNH-IOL's PoE consortium, "The focus of our testing will be interoperability. We will also verify that power-sourcing equipment (PSE) is performing detection and powered devices (PD) are providing the proper signature. This event supports our member-based weekly testing of PoE products, utilizing tests from the IEEE 802.3af standard and those developed by our laboratory."

"Interoperability testing at the UNH-IOL is extremely valuable as the new PoE standard becomes more widely adopted with customers," said Rich Valley, vice president of TI's system power management group. "Through its relationships with the IOL and members of the PoE consortium, TI is enhancing its position to deliver advanced PoE-compliant power management solutions to our customers that have been tested and are fully interoperable."

Members can schedule individual testing at the laboratory at any time between scheduled multi-vendor group test periods. The UNH-IOL encourages vendors to conduct such testing through its provision of a neutral, multi-vendor test environment.

For more information, visit www.ieee.org.

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