It’s hard to believe that Ethernet is turning 40 this year, isn’t it? Since its conception by Bob Metcalfe and the team of engineers at XEROX PARC in the 1970s, Ethernet technology has continued to evolve to meet the increasing bandwidth, media diversity, cost, and reliability demands of today’s networks. The next Ethernet evolution has officially started, and I'm excited to follow the latest developments on this new technology that will enable networks to support even higher capacities.
“Here is more rough stuff on the ALTO ALOHA network.” Memo sent by Bob Metcalfe on May 22, 1973.
I wrote about 400 GbE in my blog recently as the next likely Ethernet speed, and now it’s official. Last week at the March 2013 IEEE 802 Plenary Session, 400 GbE became an official IEEE 802.3 Study Group that will start work on developing the new standard. Though 100 GbE is only a few years old, it’s important that we start working on the next speed now, so that we have the technology shipping when there is demand from network operators to deploy higher speed Ethernet.
The 400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group is starting with strong industry consensus this time, which will enable the standard to be developed faster than before. The 400 GbE Call-For-Interest presentation was given last week to measure the interest in starting a 400 GbE Study Group in the IEEE. Based on the hard work of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment (BWA) Ad Hoc and the IEEE 802.3 Higher Speed Ethernet (HSE) Consensus Ad Hoc, there was clear consensus on the direction the industry should take on the next Ethernet speed. The straw polls and official vote on the motion to authorize the Study Group formation were all in favor with a few abstains, which showed a high degree of consensus from the individuals and companies represented. This was not so with the last Ethernet speed evolution, which was simply called the Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG) when it was formed. First, the HSSG had to analyze the market and come up with feasible higher speed solutions before even deciding on the speed. This made the standardization process much longer as the HSSG debated 40 GbE and 100 GbE, and eventually standardized both speeds for different applications. Since we are already starting the 400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group with a clear speed objective in mind, the standardization process should be much faster. This means the Study Group could have the 400 GbE standard finished in 2016 with the first interfaces available on the market soon after.
Stay tuned for more updates as we follow the road to 400 GbE! If you happen to be in the Bay Area next week, check out the Ethernet 40th Anniversary Celebration at the Ethernet Technology Summit on Wednesday evening at 6 pm, April 3, 2013.