July 2, 2014
Rapid expansion of cloud services is driving development of a new Ethernet spec by a fresh consortium that includes powerhouse companies such as Google and Microsoft.
Drawing from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 's 100-Gigabit Ethernet specification, the new 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium intends to boost the performance of data center networks. (See 25-GigE Consortium Devises Data Center Standard.)
Designed to connect servers and switches inside the data center, the new consortium's spec sets up a single-lane 25 Gbit/s and dual-lane 50 Gbit/s that are essentially fractional pieces of the IEEE's four-lane 100 Gbit/s standard, says Rochan Sankar, product marketing director, Infrastructure and Networking Group, Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), which is part of the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium. The new specifications are available royalty-free to any data center vendors or consumers who join.
The current process is very similar to the way 40 Gbit/s can be broken into 10 Gbit/s links, Sankar says. The result is a more cost-effective approach.
According to this report in Lightwave magazine, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) tried and failed to generate enough interest within the IEEE to launch a 25 Gbit/s spec study group. But Sankar tells us there is widespread interest within the data center ecosystem:
"Over past months, a number of companies in the data center ecosystem, including [equipment] vendors and the data center operators themselves, have recognized that this is a potential optimization point for performance and specifically performance per unit cost in the access layer of their networks, meaning the interface layer that goes between the server and the top-of-rack switch."
The IEEE is considering a study group on 25-Gig, he adds, but in the meantime, the rapid expansion of cloud services, both in type and volume, is creating a greater sense of urgency within the data center world.
"We saw a focused market need and a chance to bring this to market swiftly, with the opportunity to define a standard that fell logically out of how 100-Gig links were defined out of the IEEE," Sankar says. If the IEEE does launch a 25-Gig study group, the consortium's work could feed into that group's work.
The other consortium members, in addition to Broadcom, Microsoft, and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), are Arista Networks Inc. and Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX).
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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