Gigabit Ethernet Consortium FAQ
Administrative / procedural:
Gigabit Ethernet Consortium FAQBelow is a periodically updated list of frequently asked questions about the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium (GEC). For additional information, see the shortcut links on the GEC home page, or forward any additional inquiries to the GEC Consortium.
What is the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium?
The UNH-IOL Gigabit Ethernet Consortium is an industry-supported organization that works in conjunction with its member companies to provide a neutral test environment and industry accepted test methodologies for the purpose of promoting and fostering interoperability of Gigabit Ethernet devices.
What companies are currently members?
A list of current Gigabit Ethernet Consortium members is available on our Members Page.
What are the differences between the various membership types?
There are three types of memberships listed on the Members Page:
Full Members represent the most common and fundamental membership type, whereby companies reserve private testing sessions for their product, receive full execution of test suites, and receive detailed test reports containing the test results. Full Members have access to the FEC Interoperability Test Bed, and are required to contribute a representative sample of their Gigabit Ethernet product(s) to the interoperability test bed.
Founding Members represent the group of companies that were instrumental in supporting the initial establishment of the consortium. These companies receive special recognition on the membership roster for the duration of the existence of the consortium, but receive no additional benefits or rights.
Contributing Members are a special category of membership, typically reserved for companies who have contributed significantly to the establishment and ongoing support of the consortium through the donation of significant test and measurement equipment, hardware, software, and/or other development resources. The determination of a significant contribution is left solely to the discretion of the UNH-IOL. Contributing members are typically not product manufacturers (i.e. they not contribute active devices to the interoperability test bed), but may produce test and measurement equipment for that technology, or provide the media over which that technology operates (e.g., cabling and infrastructure). Contributing Members generally receive exposure on their contributed products through their use in the consortium and at group test events.
What is the relationship between the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium and the Gigabit Ethernet Standards bodies?
The Gigabit Ethernet Consortium is a separate entity from the IEEE 802.3 Working Group. The UNH-IOL has been a significant contributor to the refinement of the Gigabit Ethernet standard (IEEE Std 802.3TM-2002), attending and participating in most of the IEEE 802.3 meetings since the mid 1990s. The test suites developed by the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium are based heavily on the Gigabit Ethernet standard. In addition, the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium takes an active role in continuing to review the Gigabit Ethernet standard and will submit maintenance and interpretation requests to the IEEE 802.3 Working Group when necessary.
Is this a certification program?
No. The Gigabit Ethernet Consortium is not a certification or 'logo' program, and the UNH-IOL is in no way acting as a regulatory body for the Gigabit Ethernet standard (though it is not uncommon for the UNH-IOL to feed information back into the standards process when necessary, in cases where interoperability or conformance issues are discovered during testing, which are due to flaws and/or ambiguities in the standard.)
Members of the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium will receive formal reports documenting the results of the testing performed. These reports are intended for use in identifying and documenting issues pertaining to interoperability and conformance, so that companies may improve their products. Reports are also often used to verify to customers that a specific device or product has undergone third-party, independent testing at the UNH-IOL. Sample reports can be found on our Test Suite Page.
Is participation in the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium mandatory?
No. Participation in the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium is 100% voluntary.
What services does the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium currently offer?
A summary of Gigabit Ethernet Consortium services can be viewed on our Test Suite Page.
How can involvement in the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium save my company money?
Perhaps the primary financial benefit of the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium lies in the assembly and maintenance of a Gigabit Ethernet device interoperability test bed, which is a continually updated collection of representative products from all participating members. The mutually beneficial aspects of having a continuously available reference interoperability test bed which companies can use to verify proper operation of their new Gigabit Ethernet products is the single most beneficial aspect of the Consortium. Because of the group nature of the consortium, the reference test bed can be built at a significantly lower cost per member than what it would cost for any single member to attempt to build the same caliber test bed on its own (provided it were even possible to get access to such a large collection of pre-release products, which isn't the case in the early stages of any new technology.)
Also, the physical and protocol compliance test services, which are included as part of a full consortium membership, provide an additional cost-savings to vendors who do not wish to spend internal resources to develop this testing on their own. Members can benefit from the UNH-IOL expertise that has already been developed in these areas, and eliminate time spent 'reinventing the wheel' internally. Plus, members get the added benefit of knowing that the test procedures and methodologies used have been reviewed and accepted by the member community, thus decreasing the potential for uncertainty in the interpretation of various aspects of the standard, or implementation of the tests.
Furthermore, because the UNH-IOL does not require members to physically be present at the lab during scheduled testing (though attendance is certainly welcome), members save additionally in both travel expenses, and the work time that is reclaimed by not having to travel to an off-site facility for testing, as is the case with a plugfest. Members get plugfest-level testing without the travel costs, and time spent away from work.
How much does it cost?
The annual membership fee for the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium can be found on our annual fees page, which covers the costs of research, development, and testing services provided by the UNH-IOL.
Members must also provide at least one representative Gigabit Ethernet product to the UNH-IOL for at least 18 months. The requirement to leave a product at the UNH-IOL allows other UNH-IOL participants to perform interoperability testing with current equipment throughout the year without having to make special legal arrangements with other participants in a technology area.
Administrative / procedural:
How do I join the consortium?
How many weeks can I schedule in a year?
Test weeks are reserved on a first-come, first served basis. Members in good standing may have, at most, one active reservation per membership at any given point in time. In other words, additional weeks may not be reserved until the currently reserved week has been used. This allows for fair access to all consortium members. The number of weeks that any one member may use in one year is limited only by the number of total consortium members, and the overall frequency of requests.
For cases where members wish to bypass the existing scheduling mechanism when time-critical services are required, overtime testing is also available. For more information regarding this service, see section 184.108.40.206 of the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium Charter.
How long does the testing take?
The estimated time required for each of our testing services can be found on the Test Suites page, under the heading for each test suite.
Do I need to be present during testing?
No. Attendance is not required in order for testing to be performed, although it is not uncommon for members to be present during scheduled testing. Members are welcome and encouraged to attend, as it is often easier to troubleshoot issues as they are discovered when the vendor is present in the lab.
What do the test reports look like?
Sample reports for the various testing services are available for download on our Test Suites page.
Who will see the results of the testing performed on my product?
Confidentiality of results is of the utmost importance, and is taken very seriously. All test results are documented in formal UNH-IOL test reports, which are provided solely to the member whose device is being tested. Results are not shared among consortium members, and are not publicly released by the UNH-IOL. The report recipients are free to distribute copies of their test reports at their discretion, provided they adhere to the guidelines described in section 6.2.1 of the UNH-IOL Usage Agreement.
Does the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium offer training?
The Gigabit Ethernet Consortium does not offer training via any formal means, however, as a consortium member, vendors are entitled to full disclosure of the test procedures and methodologies utilized for all aspects of UNH-IOL testing. Members may opt to use scheduled lab time to work one-on-one with UNH-IOL staff to learn the technical details of any test services developed by the consortium, which may not already be documented in the publicly available Test Suites.
What is the difference between conformance testing and interoperability testing?
The terms conformance testing and interoperability testing are frequently used within the context of the consortium, however the specific meanings of these two terms may not be obvious to the newcomer.
Conformance testing refers to test services (i.e., test suites), whose tests are based on specific clauses of the reference standard on which the technology is based. Each conformance test suite typically focuses on a particular layer or aspect of the given technology (physical layer, coding layer, media access layer, etc). In general, for every "shall" statement found in the given clause, the test suite will contain a test (or sequence of tests) to verify that the Device Under Test (DUT) conforms to the requirements of that particular statement.Interoperability testing is a slightly different class of testing, whereby a DUT is tested against a set of reference devices that make up the Interoperability Test Bed. This is a system-level test in which an attempt is made to verify that the DUT can successfully interoperate with each of the selected link partners, under real world conditions, to some minimum predetermined performance metric, typically a target BER. This type of testing verifies the basic operation of the system as a whole, with a variety of link partners and configurations typical of what would be expected in the real world. A report is generated that shows the various link partners and configurations that were tested, and any issues that may have been observed. The conformance test tools and procedures can often be used to isolate and troubleshoot various issues that are discovered during the course of interoperability testing, thus helping to identify the root cause of the interoperability problem.
What devices are currently in the active Gigabit Ethernet interoperability device test bed?
The list of devices currently in our active Gigabit Ethernet interoperability test bed is posted on our GEC Test Bed page.
What tools does the Gigabit Ethernet Consortium use for testing?
The Gigabit Ethernet Consortium uses a variety of tools, both commercial and custom-made, for the purposes of performing our testing services. A list of these tools can be found on our Test Tools page.
Can I request special testing for my Gigabit Ethernet product?
The Gigabit Ethernet Consortium is always looking for new ways to provide useful testing services to its members. As such, we are always open to suggestions for new types of tests to support, and are always interested in working with specific members to develop new capabilities and test services, particularly if they are beneficial to multiple consortium members. If there is some particular type of testing that you would like to see developed as part of the consortium, please feel free to contact us.