1. Next Generation Ethernet Speed Likely to be 400 G

    CEN Feature (Nov 15 2012)

    1. Next Generation Ethernet Speed Likely to be 400 G

      As carriers roll out 100 Gbps Ethernet, networks developers are already thinking about what the next generation Ethernet data rates should be – and increasingly it’s looking like that speed will be 400 Gbps.

      “We know how to do 400 G,” said John D’Ambrosia, chair of the IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus Group, in an interview. “We don’t know how to do other speeds yet and we want to get things done quickly.”

      IEEE standards cover the basic building blocks of Ethernet such as what physical medium should be used, what distance transmissions can cover and how much bandwidth a connection can support, while Carrier Ethernet standards – spearheaded by groups such as the Metro Ethernet Forum – define the services that carriers can deliver over Ethernet links. But it’s wise for Carrier Ethernet stakeholders to keep track of what’s happening in the IEEE, as those developments ultimately will define the raw materials on which Carrier Ethernet services are built.

      Next-generation Ethernet is currently being examined by what the IEEE calls a “consensus group” that aims to gain general industry agreement about the direction that development efforts should take. The consensus group already has met and after taking a straw poll of participants, D’Ambrosia said there was “near universal agreement” that the next speed should be 400 G.

      Previously some people had kicked around the idea of terabit Ethernet, but as D’Ambrosia explained, that initiative would require considerable experimentation with no guarantee of success. Developers essentially appear to be opting for the 400 G bird in the hand rather than the terabit bird in the bush.

      The need for more Ethernet bandwidth is clear. The IEEE recently created a detailed bandwidth forecast that looked at everything from the growth in data centers to the growth in the financial sector and cable networks.  And as D’Ambrosia explained, “What we found was that in 2015 the expectation is that we will need 10 times more bandwidth than we had in 2010 and in 2020 we will need 100 times more.”

      The IEEE’s next step for next-generation Ethernet would be to obtain a “call for interest” – a goal D’Ambrosia hopes will be met by March 2013. As D’Ambrosia explains, the way the IEEE works is that “you have to identify something as worthy of study before you can go off and define a project.”

      In the call for interest phase, he said, stakeholders identify a problem they would like to study. If the problem is determined to be worth studying, the project then moves on to the study group phase, where stakeholdes define the project.

      As D’Ambrosia explained, the IEEE has five screening criteria, requiring positive answers to five questions:

      • Does the project have broad market potential?
      • Is it technically feasible?
      • Can it be done cost effectively?
      • Is this project unique?
      • Is this project compatible with other industry efforts?

      D’Ambrosia estimates that the study phase will last eight to 12 months, after which the detailed work of defining the next-generation Ethernet standard will be undertaken. D’Ambrosia is hopeful that if the upfront work is done thoroughly – and a high level of consensus is achieved – the process of creating the final standard will progress smoothly and speedily.

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    On 11/15/12 GoinBananas said:
    "400GE may probably happen sooner than TGE, but I think TGE would seem to be a natural fit for terabit wavelengths. "

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