Xip Blog

Are Gigabit Switches (1 Gb Ports) required for the Desktop?

If I have to answer that question in one word : No!! But anyways in this post, I would like the readers to say (in the comments section) if Gigabit ports are really required for the desktop…

1 GE Desktop Network SwitchActually, we were selling wireless networking products back then, and IEEE 802.11n was just coming in. So, we were still selling the IEEE 802.11b/g access points. So, customers used to routinely ask: Is 54 Mbps bandwidth (Practically only 20-25 Mbps) enough for 15 to 20 users who are going to connect to the Wireless Network?

We would say 54 Mbps for 15 users is an Overkill!! 🙂

They would ask how…

Since we were selling more to these educational institutions, we would say “What is your primary application using wireless?”

They would say, “Internet browsing for the hostels”

“How much Internet do you have?”

“Around 10 Mbps”

“So, you have total of 10 Mbps Internet, and only a fraction of that is going to be used by these 15 users at one location, and you say 54 Mbps is not enough??”

That makes them think. We used to have a number of such discussions with customers – educational and even corporate.

The basic message I am trying to get through here is: 100 Mbps switches (each port) to the desktop themselves are an overkill. But these days, we have 1000 Mbps (1 GE) Switches to the desktop! Some of them are unmanaged Gigabit Switches! Pray, can you think of one application that can utilize one thousand mega bits of bandwidth with one single computer or any other device? If there is one, its time to change that application 😉

Lets look at some possible high bandwidth applications…. Which of the following would cross 100 Mbps per port?

ERP – No


AutoCAD/ Graphics/ 3D Modeling and all such complex stuff – No

Internet – No

Anti-virus/UTM Upgrade – Depends on the vendor 🙂

Cloud based Data Center – Only as good as the WAN/ Internet capacity, which means at least currently, No.

HD Video Conferencing/ Telepresence/ Video Surveillance – Well, Telepresence might occupy high bandwidth but they are still lesser than 100 Mbps (Yet). So, No.

Operating System Upgrade – Well well well … 🙂 No.

Desktop Virtualization – If your Desktop Virtualization solution takes more than 100 Mbps per station, change it or get back to normal desktops 🙂

What else? Any suggestions?

I will give you some –

Servers (If there are thousands of concurrent users, it might cross 100 Mbps, especially if your database optimization is done poorly 🙂

Distribution Switches – These are not desktop switches, they connect to all the desktop switches in the uplink and act as an aggregate layer. Might, sometimes.

802.11n Access Points – These access points can support 300 Mbps currently and 600 Mbps in the near future and they are again shared by a number of users – Might, sometimes.

High Performance Computing / Super Computers? – They use Infiniband, not Ethernet or IP – at least for now!

But the above four examples are not at the desktop level! So, its quite clear that even a combination of applications might not require 100 Mbps per port today, then where is the question of 1000 Mbps per port??

I really wonder how vendors manage to sell these switches as ‘Latest and Fastest’! And customers usually buy that story. One customer rejected an IP Telephony solution because the IP Phones didn’t have a 1 Gb port!! Heights. 🙂

If any vendor or a solution provider is reading this, do let us know – what’s your story?? 🙂 I was just joking…. Do let us know why you think One Gigabit to the Desktop is required or not… Answer soon, or else, we might start getting 10 Gigabit Switches (per port) to the Desktop!! 🙂



  • BBQsteveZ0rz

    If running Diskless Desktops or Virtual Machines with iSCSI. Running all the usual things plus your disk I/O over the network might use some of that extra local bandwidth.

    Now bring on the 10G! 🙂

    • admin

      I do agree that higher speeds are required on the server/storage side… but diskless desktops and running disk I/O over the network is something I have not considered… thanks for your input.

  • David Bullock

    Hi, you might want to consider that the propagation delay is less with Gigabit ethernet. Assuming other forms of delay did not exist, you could send your packet and get a reply 5 times on 1000Mbits in the same time it takes you to send the last bit of the same packet on 100Mbit. In practice, other forms of delay do exist, so you never achieve the full theoretical benefit, but you can still get significant decreased latency even if you don’t actually saturate the available bandwidth.

    • admin

      I think its not even possible to saturate the available bandwidth of 1 GE by a single desktop computer! But the delay is a factor I did not consider – Thanks for your input.

  • Nate O

    Editing uncompressed or 4K ProRes 4444 video off a Network Attached Storage device or Storage Area Network. I can saturate that link don’t you worry!