Realtek RTL8126, RTL8157, and RTL8251B 5Gbps Ethernet solutions showcased at COMPUTEX 2023

Realtek 5Gb Ethernet Solutions

I only upgraded my local network to 2.5 Gbps Ethernet last year, but 5 Gbps Ethernet is soon coming to the home as shown by Realtek at COMPUTEX 2023 with demonstrations of their RTL816, RTL8157, and RTL8251B 5GbE chips that were initially unveiled at CES 2022.

The RTL8126-CG is a PCIe 3.0 x1 to 5GbE controller offered in a QFN56 8x8mm package that succeeds the RTL8125 chips, the RTL8157-CG is a USB 3.2 Gen2 to 5Gbps Ethernet controller in a 8x8mm QFN68 package providing an update the RTL8156(B)/(BG) 2.5GbE USB controllers, and the RTL8251B-CG is a single-port “PHYceiver” in a 8x8mm QFM56 package. All support 10/10/100/2500/5000 Mbps links and consumes under 1.5 watts, against 0.7W for 2.5 GbE networking. The same Cat5e cables can be used at the higher speed.

RTL8126 CG RTL8157 CG RTL8251B CG

The company did not just come with some slides to show and also showcased some test boards for each chip starting with an RTL8251B demo board…

Realtek RTL8251B demo board

… as well as a USB 3.2 5GbE adapter to easily add 5Gbps Ethernet networking to any system with a spare 5 Gbps or greater USB port…

Realtek 5GbE USB adapter

… and a PCIe card with 2.5 Gbps Ethernet and two USB 3.2 ports.

RTL8126 5Gbps Ethernet PCie Card prototype

In recent years, we’ve seen Realtek RTL8125 in many SBCs, and I have a couple of RTL8156-based USB dongles for 2.5GbE, so we should expect to find the new RTL8126(-CG) and RTL8157(-CG) in affordable designs in the following years, especially once 5Gbps Ethernet becomes more popular.  One of the slides also listed the RTL8261N 10GbE PHYin a 10x10mm aQFN119 package, but it’s unclear whether it was demonstrated at the event.

Realtek’s booth has plenty of other solutions with a 20 Gbps USB to dual PCIe/SATA bridge (RTL9220DP), multi-chip solutions for AX3000 and AX5400 routers with “AI QoS”, a USB4 hub router controller (RTS55490), the RTL8762G Bluetooth 5.4 & 802.15.4 Arm Cortex-M55-like SoC @ 125 MHz with display support up to 480×480 resolution, the RTL8772F specially designed for smartwatches, a Bluetooth and USB microcontroller designed for high-polling rate mice (RTL8762G), as well as various WiFi 7 and WiFi 6 solutions which we will discuss in a separate post.

Thanks to TLS for the photos from COMPUTEX 2023.

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17 Replies to “Realtek RTL8126, RTL8157, and RTL8251B 5Gbps Ethernet solutions showcased at COMPUTEX 2023”

    1. Ethernet is made up of a MAC and a PHY. Look at the AllWinner and Rockhip SoCs, they often have an integrated 10/100 Mbps MAC and PHY, but only a Gigabit MAC and need an external PHY to do Gigabit or potentially faster speeds if supported by the SoC. In this case, it’s more about using these in switches, at least initially, until more integrated solutions come along.

      1. I know what a PHY is, but this calls itself a PHYceiver which makes it sound like a different thing entirely. If this just them being silly with a different word for an existing thing?

      1. By available, I mean something that is not “enquire here”, but something I can just buy in single unit quantity off the shelf on aliexpress or similar for $15-20 or so with no hassle, like their other wifi cards, that they actively support in mainline Linux, for now.

        Looks like 8852ce will be the only 160MHz channel, 6GHz ax wifi chip, without firmware imposed regulatory limits, that is reasonably cheap. But it would be nice if it was finally available. Other similar ones from the same lines already are, like 8852ae and be. I’m just waiting for the next letter in the alphabet to drop. 🙂

        It seems to be already present in some laptops, recently. So hopefully some overstock from that starts appearing online.

  1. BTW for those looking for high speed ethernet at a reasonable price, I found the TPlink TX-401 equipped with an AQC107 (marvell aqtion controller, supported in mainline by Linux), which supports 100M/1G/2.5G/5G/10G over RJ45 with good performance and stability for now, for around 60 EUR. It doesn’t heat too much at 2.5G at least. I found that it was a well balanced product in terms of perf/constraints/price.

      1. Sure, but I wanted to try something a bit more punchy and without the overheating of the intel X540-T2 (which BTW doesn’t support 2.5G).

        1. My point was that €60 isn’t really cheap and the Aquantia/Marvell cards often go for US$100-150. I have a pair of older Aquantia cards from the time when they sold them under their own brand name that I paid about US$69 for each during some Black Friday deal. In the early days they had some issues with AMD based systems, but a firmware update solved that. I guess I’ve them for over five years now and they haven’t missed a beat.

          1. Yeah, I paid mine around 65-70 EUR, but while looking for its exact name yesterday, I noticed their price has gone through the roof lately!

  2. FWIW: the Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Pro X has the 5Gbps Realtek RTL8126. And the Realtek driver works on Linux (after self-compiling)

    Now already 5Gbps … interesting development. I’m still between 1 and 2.5 Gbps.

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