“What is Ethernet?” is a question that is asked almost six and half million times a year according to Google.  It’s great question, and here’s our effort at explaining things.

     First of all, I’m not going to go into the deep technical stuff.  This is a primer, something to get you familiar with Ethernet.

     Ethernet is a way to let computers talk to each other.  It is the central nervous system of the Internet, and it comes in many forms.  But in its most basic form Ethernet is nothing more than a highway, connecting the points that people want to visit.  Just like the highway, not a lot of people look at the road, focusing only on the destination.

     Here at the Wired blog, all we do is the highway.  We help people build the on-ramps and the off-ramps.  We make the parts of the road - both well-travelled and private roads that are hardly ever seen.  Ethernet uses packets (consider them to be like cars) which travel the Ethernet highway.


     And, like a real road, sometimes there are traffic jams, construction that forces detours, and traffic lights.   Commute times vary per day and per traffic, and rarely the cars don’t make it.  The cars/packets are various sizes and many formats.

     Without the highway, commerce, visiting, and day-to-day long distance activities become hard if not impossible.  Same with Ethernet.  Before Ethernet there was “sneakernet”; you had to walk your data around to those people interested in it.


     I recently heard that 25 million pictures per day are uploaded to one of the more famous social networking sites.  Imagine if you had to walk all those pictures to everyone who wanted to see them.

     Today Ethernet is just about everywhere.  It’s not just your PC and/or laptop.  Digital video records, Blu-Ray* players, televisions, games systems, and even your household appliances are all going to  want access to the highway. Without Ethernet our world is a very different place, one less rich and less interconnected.  So this is the simplified view of Ethernet,  one we’ll expand on in the months ahead.

     You got here via Ethernet; you’ll head to your next website via Ethernet.  So it has been since the Internet started.  And, given Ethernet’s 30 years of history, whatever comes next, after the Internet, it will still be over Ethernet.


Thanks for reading the Intel Wired blog, and safe driving on your Ethernet Highway...