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High costs, IPv6 slow down 100GbE adoption

Posted: 09 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:100G system? Ethernet? IPv6? network?

Big telecommunications providers are craving for higher density systems, but are concerned about the high costs of the first 100 Gigabit Ethernet systems coming this year and the need to transition to IPv6.

That was the view from Doug Junkins, chief technology officer of NTT America, whose unit agreed to buy new Cisco ASR-9000 core network routers to pave the way for a 100G Ethernet deployment. Junkins also commented on his group's evaluation of about seven competing systems.

"We are a wholesale IP transit provider, and our highest growth is in 10G Ethernet ports for new customers," said Junkins who is also VP of IP development for NTT Communications' business network unit. "We have customers today bundling more than ten 10G Ethernets from our backbone to their net, so the day 100G Ethernet is available, we will start provisioning for it," he said.

The systems should start rolling later this year but their optical modules could be ten to thirty times as expensive as those on today's 10G systems. Junkins called such prices prohibitive. "So for some period of time there may be availability of 100G Ethernet, but from a cost perspective it will make more sense to bundle 10G Ethernet links," he said.

Optical component vendors counter that a 10x price difference still provides the same cost-per-bit as today's 10G modules, and premium prices are typical for every new product generation. As 100G module volumes rise and engineers are able to integrate the optical components and move from today's 10G to future 25G Serdes, those price premiums will fall, they said.

Router choices, IPv6 transition
In an effort to lay a foundation for its move to 100G Ethernet, NTT chose the ASR-9000 router recently announced by Cisco Systems. It won out in an evaluation among about seven other systems, in part thanks to its density.

The ASR-9000 supports up to 64 10Gbit ports and promises to expand to 320 ports per chassis in the future. That compares to 28 10G ports on the Cisco Catalyst 6509 systems NTT currently uses.

"There were other boxes very close in our selection criteria but they didn't have quite the same level of density as the ASR-9000 did," Junkins said.

In addition, only one other system supported all the quality-of-service metrics NTT's U.S. network offers. Those network service QoS metrics include average monthly round-trip latency of no more than 50ms in North America, average monthly packet loss of no more than 0.1 percent and average jitter of no more than 0.25ms.

NTT evaluated two systems from Cisco, two from Juniper Networks and one each from Brocade and Force10. It did not evaluate any routers from Alcatel-Lucent due to past problems NTT experienced on its network with configuration management features on Alca-Lu time-division multiplexing systems.

Junkins also praised the Cisco system for its dual IPv4/IPv6 support. He expressed concern the transition to IPv6 may be moving too slowly. Some predict as soon as September 2011, there may be no more Internet Protocol addresses available under today's IPv4 protocol.

"We are concerned not enough people will get on IPv6 bandwagon before IPv4 depletion," said Junkins. "We've seen an uptick in market interest for IPv6, but the question is will it be too late," he said.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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