Optical/IP Networks

10-Gigabit Ethernet

During 2001 semiconductor companies started rolling out 10-Gigabit Ethernet products. Devices available now include:
  • Discrete media access controllers (MAC)
  • Physical layer devices (PHY)
  • Sonet/SDH framer/mapper devices
  • Gigabit Ethernet switch devices with integrated 10-Gig Ethernet MACs
We are now seeing the introduction of second-generation silicon products with lower cost and power together with higher integration. A major focus for semiconductor companies during 2003 will be the introduction of devices to support the next generation of optical transponder and the integration of MAC and PHY in a single device.

The first 10-Gigabit Ethernet systems used either proprietary optical modules or transponders conforming to the 300-pin MSA (multisource agreement). These are relatively large and expensive modules initially developed to support Sonet/SDH.

The recent introduction of Xenpak transponders is a significant step towards expanding the 10-Gig Ethernet market. There are seven companies now shipping, or planning to ship these transponders: Xenpak transponders are significantly smaller and cheaper, enabling more cost-effective solutions with up to four 10-Gbit/s ports per line card. They are hot-pluggable, allowing a “pay as you go” approach, with the expensive transponder modules being added as additional ports are required.

The first systems with Xenpak transponders are now entering the market. Future cost reductions will be driven by the introduction of even smaller transponders based on the XPAK, X2, and XFP MSAs.

XPAK and X2 transponders use the same XAUI interface as Xenpak, but will also support 10-Gigabit Fiber Channel. XPAK and X2 transponders are 40 percent smaller than Xenpak transponders. The XPAK and X2 MSAs are very similar, and it is unclear at the moment which will be more widely used (see The X-Wars: Agilent Strikes First).

XFP transceivers, that integrate a new serial interface (XFI), will further reduce system cost. They have a very small footprint and will support 10-Gigabit Fiber Channel and 10-Gbit/s Sonet/SDH as well as 10-Gigabit Ethernet (see XFP Module Group Debuts Spec).

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