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Ethernet Alliance Blog

A Journey of Exploring 40/100GbE over Twisted Pair Cabling Started

By Frank Yang, Marketing Chair of Next Generation Enterprise Cabling Subcommittee

If you drew a table of ratified IEEE Ethernet standards versus their media, you would find two blanks as illustrated in the figure below. There are no 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet standards defined over balanced twisted pair copper cabling (e.g. CAT6 and 6A) as of today while twisted pair cabling has the largest install base world wide.

 

Balanced twisted pair

Multimode Fiber

Single-mode Fiber

Twinax

100Gb/s

 

100GBASE-SR10

100GBASE-LR or ER

100GBASE-CR10

40Gb/s

 

40GBASE-SR4

40GBASE-FR,  or LR

40GBASE-CR4

10Gb/s

10GBASE-T

10GBASE-SR

10GBASE-LR, or ER

10GBASE-CX4

or SFP+ DAC*

1Gb/s

1000BASE-T

1000BASE-SX

1000BASE-LX

1000BASE-CX

Filling in the blanks!

IEEE just approved the Next Generation BASE-T Call for Interest (CFI) at IEEE 802.3 Plenary Closing Session on 7/19/2012. The Next Generation BASE-T will now progress to Study Group (SG) phase of the standard development. This approval is the first important milestone for a standards path for at least 40 and possibly 100 Gigabit Ethernet over balanced twisted pair copper cabling.

To me, this milestone isn’t just filling in the blanks.  The CFI approval result shows broad industry support of advancing higher speed Ethernet over twisted pair cabling. You can find a list of supportive individuals and their affiliated companies in the CFI Consensus presentation here. Per my observation, 10GBASE-T is gaining traction and market penetration. Key 10GBASE-T network equipment have already been released or announced this year. Currently available 10GBASE-T network equipment includes chips for LOM (LAN on Motherboard), network interface cards and high port density switches. This increase in 10GBASE-T market definitely influenced the 802.3 voters to support the Next Generation BASE-T CFI.

This milestone is also good news to the adopters of balanced twisted pair cabling and will encourage more research and investment in faster and better Ethernet over balanced twisted pair media they have adopted. More research and investment in the Next Generation BASE-T technology will result in better choices of next generation products in the future and enhance the economic benefits of 10GBASE-T for end users today.

It’s too early to tell what Next Generation BASE-T will look like. But, in my opinion the Next Generation BASE-T Ethernet should adopt RJ45 as its interface because of RJ45’s ubiquitous adoption and backward compatibility for 10GBASE-T and 10/100/1000BASE-T.

Note: *SFP+ DAC was defined by the SFF Committee.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

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Terabit Ethernet? The Game Is Afoot!

By John D'Ambrosia

Wow! Hats off to IIR for the great job with this year’s WDM & Next Generation Optical Networking Conference. While the conference title would bring to mind the service provider networks, enabling the ecosystem was the real story. From supporting data center and cloud applications to virtualizing networks to the concerns of operating networks in a cost effective manner to energy efficiency. It was all being examined.

Interest in starting the next speed is clearly building. “The Next Rate” was clearly one of the big discussions on the floor. As you can imagine this went in many directions:

• We need to get started…..
• The next rate should be 400 Gigabit per second.
• The next rate should be Terabit per second.
• The IEEE should do both rates at the same time. (That one caught me offguard!)
• Rates need to make sense for client and line side applications.
• The next rate will make only make sense if the cost per gigabit goes down.

The panel I moderated was titled “Preparing for 100G+ – Standards, Systems, Architecture, and Components.” The Ethernet Alliance worked with IIR to organize this panel, which brought together individuals from the IEEE, ITU-T, and the OIF. Everyone on the panel recognized the need for the various groups to work together on the next rate jump, as we truly live in a networked world.

These discussion will no doubt continue with next month’s anticipated approval and release of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Ad Hoc report and even grow louder with suppliers pointing to the technical feasibility and economic viability of exiting 400Gb/s solutions while end-users point to the desire for Terabit Ethernet.

Participating in WDM & Next Generation Optical Networking 2012 brought back a sense of déjà-vu for me as I remembered the debates that raged during the early 2007 debates about 40GbE versus 100GbE. So, it would seem that things are about to get interesting once again. As Sherlock Holmes said, “the game is afoot!”

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

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