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IEEE pushes for Ethernet standard between 400Gbps and 1Tbps, hopes to head off big data crunch

IEEE pushes for Ethernet standard between 400Gbps and 1Tbps, hopes to head off big data crunch
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|August 20, 2012 6:40 PM

Ethernet might seem passé to those of us toting Ultrabooks, but it's important enough to provoke a crisis for internet providers and many of those who depend on high-speed computing networks for a living: based on the rises of streaming video and social networking, the IEEE is worried that many of those large-scale networks will need 10Tbps of total bandwidth just to avoid a logjam in 2020. To that end, the standards body has formed a Higher-Speed Ethernet Consensus group that's mulling a new, breakneck-speed format reaching either 400Gbps or 1Tbps, depending on whose approach you'd favor. Fight the urge to pick the 1Tbps option on instinct, however. Both options would depend on bonding multiple connections together, and the faster of the two formats could lead to some expensive and very ungainly cables if it's not handled well. A meeting is scheduled for late September in Geneva to at least begin hashing out the details. Although we won't be wiring our homes with terabit Ethernet anytime soon, the standard should come quickly enough that the Googles and Netflixes of the world can satisfy our data addictions for a good while longer.

[Image credit: Justin Marty, Flickr]

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Industry Invited to Participate in New IEEE 802.3(Tm) Group Formed to Build Consensus around Ethernet's Next Speed

IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Report Predicts Capacity Demand for Wireline Applications to Reach 10 Terabit Per Second in 2020

PISCATAWAY, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--IEEE, the world's largest professional organization advancing technology for humanity, today announced formation of the IEEE 802.3™ Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group, to build consensus toward the development of the next speed of Ethernet. Potential participants include users and producers of systems and components for telecommunications carriers, Internet exchanges, financial markets, data centers, multiple system operators (MSOs) networking systems, high-performance computing, network storage and servers and other individuals interested in future IEEE 802.3 Ethernet wireline standards.

Launch of the IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group (http://www.ieee802.org/3/ad_hoc/hse/index.html) follows the publication of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment report, which shows that global bandwidth requirements of multiple application spaces are continuing an exponential climb. The report-available for download via http://www.ieee802.org/3/ad_hoc/bwa/BWA_Report.pdf-forecasts that, if current trends continue, networks will need to support capacity requirements of 1 terabit per second in 2015 and 10 terabit per second by 2020.

"We continue to seek to streamline the early stages of work of potential future IEEE 802.3 Ethernet wireline standards-development activities," said John D'Ambrosia, chair of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Ad Hoc and IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group and chief Ethernet evangelist, CTO office, Dell. "The information gathered by the Bandwidth Assessment Ad Hoc demonstrates the ongoing, exponential bandwidth growth that is happening in varying application spaces on a global nature. The launch of the IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group will facilitate an open forum to explore the start beyond 100Gb/s Ethernet."

In creating the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment report, input was collected from a variety of application spaces (servers, data center networks, high-performance computing, financial markets, carrier and cable operators, Internet exchanges, the scientific community, etc.) and from different geographic regions. The report confirms that growth is being driven across multiple application spaces and markets by simultaneous increases in users, access methodologies, access rates and services (such as video on demand and social media). The report indicates that bandwidth requirements of network-aggregation nodes are growing at an even faster rate than end-station applications, which initiate the transmission and receipt of data. Among industries, the most aggressive growth rates are shown by the financial sector and data-intensive science, with compounded annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 95 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

"The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment report offers a simple but meaningful explanation of the underlying forces that are driving the never-ending, global bandwidth explosion," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and industry analyst with LightCounting.com, a market research firm that analyzes and forecasts high-speed interconnects. "The data from smartphones, tablets, PCs and another 16 billion devices forecasted to be on the Internet by 2020 all flow through the wireless, CATV and wired access points, through the metro, long-haul and undersea networks, to a data-center server anywhere in the world. Add to this the dramatic increase in the use of live and streaming video, and the data traffic calculations become simply astronomical. The only way all these different devices are going to communicate with each other is via industry standards set by groups such as the IEEE. The ability to support this exponential rise in traffic will continue to pressure the entire Ethernet eco-system to continue to drive cost per bit downward, so that manufacturers, service providers and users can be offered cost-effective, standards-based solutions, products and services."

Added Paul Nikolich, chair of the IEEE 802® LAN/MAN Standards Committee: "The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment report documents a cross-industry understanding of the diverse bandwidth needs of various Ethernet applications. By doing so, it provides a critical head start for potential future development activities of IEEE 802 Ethernet standards, as the time needed to accumulate this knowledge is significant. The report and now the work of the IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group ultimately will help more quickly yield more meaningful IEEE 802.3 Ethernet wireline standards."

The IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group, an IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) Industry Connections activity, will meet at the IEEE 802.3 Interim Meeting, scheduled for 24-28 September 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. Through Industry Connections (http://standards.ieee.org/industryconnections), IEEE-SA facilitates like-minded organizations or individuals in coming together quickly, effectively and economically to build industry consensus at strategic points in a technology's lifecycle. Groups have the unique opportunity to leverage IEEE resources in a customized format, host workshops and conferences and produce varied content.

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