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100GbE spec: 2010 at best

Posted: 03 Apr 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Loring Wirbel? IEEE? 100GbE? DesignCon? Seamus Crehan?

While the IEEE's high-speed study group for Ethernet has come together on a 100Gbps speed, participants in a panel on 100GbE agreed that any draft standard would be unlikely to emerge before 2010. The panel was held recently during DesignCon.

Seamus Crehan, principal analyst for switched Ethernet at the Dell'Oro Group, said that the different PHY options of the 10Gbit standard have already proved tough to finish, and the decision on how many waves of light to multiplex will only be more complex at 100Gbps.

In addition, the price-parity crossover for 10Gbit ports vs. their 1Gbit predecessors is unlikely to be broached until 2008, Crehan said, and equipment vendors may not even consider 100Gbit technologies until per-port prices for line cards reach the $3,000 range.

Brad Booth, president of the Ethernet Alliance and director of advanced products at Quake Technologies Inc., advised developers to proceed with caution. While completion of the PHY standards for 10GBase-T (copper) and the 10Gbit backplane probably represents the last of the 10Gbit PHY standards, developers must use discipline in offering multiple standards at 100Gbits, he said. Booth said the IEEE probably won't work on copper-cable standards at 100Gbps, unless it's for very short intersystem links. "I could see a standard for 100Gbit copper, but I wouldn't stand next to that cable, unless I wanted to glow in the dark," he quipped.

Companies must prepare now for the higher speeds, warned Joel Goergen, chief scientist at Force10 Networks Inc. Switching systems designed today must handle 120Gbps across the backplane. "It gets worse by the end of the decade: If you're a systems company and you can't put 500Gbits on a single blade by 2009, you're just not going to make it."

Mike Bennett, senior network engineer at Lawrence Berkeley Labs, said that 100Gbps was not overkill for high-performance networks. In five years, Bennett said, DOE researchers will need 100Tbytes of data extracted from a 100Pbyte store using 100Gbit links. Within a decade, they will need thousands of Pbyte links by 1,000Gbit channels, he added.

- Loring Wirbel
EE Times

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