What Are Gigapackets? The Giga World explained by GigaPackets.com
Years ago it was Megacycles, Megahertz
and Megabits per second. Now all the buzz is about Gigahertz,
Gigaflops and Gigabits. It all has to do with speed. Now add
a new word to the lexicon: Gigapackets. In the world of high
speed data transmission, gigapackets are the amount of information
flowing through the network.
Why Packets are Important
There are basically two types of networks being used in the telecommunications
industry today. The first is the legacy circuit switched network
that grew to support Alexander Graham Bell's original telephone.
POTS or plain old telephone service is supported by copper wire
pairs and telco switches that connect one telephone to another
electrically. This is true even if the technology is upgraded
to TDM digital trunks like T1 and T3 lines. It's still one circuit
connected to another while the call is in progress.
Packet switched networks differ in that
the electrical circuit for every user is connected all the time.
What gets switched from source to destination are the units of
information organized into packets. The Internet is a perfect
example of this. All the modems and routers are plugged in an
available at all times. Each has an address to distinguish it
from others. The routers in the system route or switch the path
of the individual packets depending on the source and destination
addresses embedded in the packets. This is called a packet switched
network and is the basis of not only the Internet, but all corporate
LANs, VoIP telephony and ATM, Frame Relay and IP based private
What's In a Packet?
Packets are also called data packets, even when they are transmitting
voice signals. That's because everything is converted to data
bits, the lowest common denominator of packet switched networks.
Packets come in various sizes, depending on the standards that
apply for a particular network technology. As a minimum, data
packets contain a header section that contains control information
such as source and destination addresses, the actual data to
be transmitted which is also called the payload, and the trailer
section that marks the end of the packet and may contain error
detection and correction codes. Some packets also contain specialized
information such as the quality of network services needed if
they contain voice or video. Packets might be used on one particular
network only or converted to another format so they can travel
It's All About Speed
Yes, there are still slow speed data applications that only need
56K bps or 56,000 bits per second to work perfectly fine. Many
of today's network applications are resource hungry and that
includes the data rates. The basic 10 Mbps of regular Ethernet
service has given way to fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps. Even that
is supplanted by Gigabit Ethernet or GigE running at 1 Gigabit
per second or 1,000 Mbps, and now even 10 Gigabit Ethernet. A
Gigahertz is 1,000 Mbps, with 2 or 3 GHz being the processor
speeds common in today's PCs. Gigapackets are 1,000 megapackets
per second or 1 billion packets per second. A GIGAPOP is a a
network POP or point of presence that boasts a data rate of one
or more gigapackets per second. The terms gigapacket and gigapackets
will become more familiar as networks are upgraded to support
Gigabit Ethernet and beyond.
Beyond? Yes. The Giga world is all about
billions, the state of the art for now. Beyond gigapackets you'd
find terapackets which are equivalent to 1,000 gigapackets, petapackets
which would be 1,000 terapackets, and exapackets that are 1,000
petapackets or 1,000,000 gigapackets each. That's a LOT of data.
Before you write these speeds off as science fiction, remember
that it wasn't that long ago that 1 MegaFlop or one million floating
point operations per second was a respected figure in computer
designs. Now the fastest super computers are competing in the
range of 35 to 70 TeraFlops. Petaflops are next and they'll eventually
need Petapackets of network speed to funnel the data in fast
enough to stay busy.
How Much Speed Would YOU Like? At GigaPackets.com, we'll help
you acquire the network connection speeds you need to support
your ever advancing business needs. We can routinely supply circuits
from the fractional T1 level (1.5 Mbps or less) though OC3 (155
Mbps), OC12 (622 Mbps) and OC48 (2.5 Gbps). The fastest networks
running nationwide top out at OC192 (about 10 Gbps) which can
support 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Beyond that, you'll need to look
at multiple fiber circuits or DWDM dense wavelength division
multiplexing which inserts multiple lambdas or wavelengths on
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