Ethernet Group Starts to Talk Terabit
The standards body has created the Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group, to be chaired by John D'Ambrosia, chief Ethernet evangelist at Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL), who's been a driving force for high-speed Ethernet, from 10Gbit/s through the current effort. (Note how the new speed has to be higher.)
D'Ambrosia's hope is that this ad hoc group will formulate a call for interest (CFI) -- the first step in creating an IEEE standard.
Why not just float a CFI right now, rather than talk about it? Because it's worth it to make sure that any proposal has a good shot at getting the 50 percent approval a CFI requires, D'Ambrosia says.
He also wants as many opinions as possible to be fed into the process. That didn't happen with 100Gbit/s Ethernet, which got delayed when the server community started pushing for 40Gbit/s.
"When you look at that project from when I held the first call -- not necessarily as an IEEE project but the first call to start that -- that was December 2005. The spec was published in June 2010," D'Ambrosia says.
D'Ambrosia actually started the higher-speed Ethernet process last year by working on a bandwidth assessment for the IEEE -- making sure, before starting any standard, that the group had some understanding of future bandwith requirements. The study, completed in July, found that 1Tbit/s links were likely to be needed in 2015, and 10Tbit/s by 2020.
That doesn't imply that the IEEE has to crank out a 1Tbit/s standard in three years, D'Ambrosia says -- ten 100Gbit/s lines could be used instead. The point is just that the IEEE now has a common understanding of the problem.
"The doubling of bandwidth every 18 months still seems to be a reasonable approximation for where bandwidth is going," D'Ambrosia says.
Some obvious issues remain, such as whether the next standard should be 400Gbit/s or 1Tbit/s. The latter is going to be needed, but there's no clear way to make it affordable.
"During the course of the last speed, there was a lot of 'Build it, and it will sell.' Then there was sticker shock," D'Ambrosia says.
There's also a matter of scope to consider -- that is, exactly which specifications the standard should tackle. It's not as glamorous as saying "terabit," but it's an important factor.
— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading