OFC: Terabit Explained

Well, sort of

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

February 26, 2008

1 Min Read
OFC: Terabit Explained

2:15 PM -- SAN DIEGO -- OFC/NFOEC -- Having heard Bob Metcalfe talk about Terabit Ethernet in his OFC/NFOEC keynote, I'm not sure I'm feeling all that enlightened.

Turns out Metcalfe gave away most of his argument during his recent interview with LRTV. Namely, he's convinced the Terabit Ethernet generation will require a massive overhaul of the network as we know it. (See Metcalfe Pitches Terabit Ethernet or watch the video here.)

Metcalfe suspects that it goes down to the wavelengths and even possibly to the fiber itself. Maybe it's time to give up the glass. Carbon fiber? Free-space optics? He tossed those out as possibilities but didn't elaborate.

Actually, he did have a compelling suggestion in there: "We need a new virtualization in this space that routes and switches these circuits and packets and lambdas."

He was talking about how successful the layered structure of the Internet had been. Terabit Ethernet could thrive given a new layered order, something more directly crafted for the needs of today's networks.

The distinction between when the network "routes" and when it "switches" is an important one. Metcalfe prefaced his comment by noting that routing is an on-demand function, while switching is precomputed and involves dedicated bandwidth.

So I'm interpreting his "new virtualization" to mean a network with the intelligence to know when traffic should be routed and when it should be switched.

Maybe I'm overextrapolating, but it's an interesting thought.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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