Much ink has been spilled on the topic of what constitutes true “line rate,” and in the past we’ve advocated offering traffic at, and only at, 100.00 percent of theoretical line rate to determine if frame loss exists.

However, the distinction between 99.99 percent (which we used in these tests) and 100.00 percent load is not all that meaningful, especially at higher Ethernet speeds, for a couple of reasons. First, Ethernet is inherently an asynchronous technology, meaning each device (in this case, the device under test and the test instrument) uses one or more of its own free-running clocks, without synchronization. Thus, throughput measurements may just be artifacts of minor differences in the speeds of clock chips, not descriptions of a system’s fabric capacity.

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Cisco’s Nexus 9516 review: About line rate