By Scott Kipp, President, Ethernet Alliance
The Ethernet Alliance is pleased to present our new animated video presenting the long and winding Ethernet road to terabit speeds. Check it out here: www.ethernetalliance.org/roadmap/.
Our new video highlights the six historic speeds of Ethernet and the six speeds that are expected over the next few years. It tells the story of the standardization of the first six initial Ethernet speeds (10M, 100M, 1G, 10G, 40G and 100G) from the 1980s to 2010, and how the next six speeds (2.5G, 5G, 25G, 50G, 200G and 400G) will be standardized between 2016 and 2020. Think about that for a minute. The IEEE standardized six speeds over a span of 30 years and its next six speeds in less than five years. That is accelerated change.
Let’s peel back the layers of the Ethernet onion a little more. What has changed over the 40 years of Ethernet’s existence?
Ethernet was originally used to connect personal computers to other computers and shared resources like printers in an office. Ethernet continued to grow to cover campuses and data centers and then to connect these over metropolitan and wide area networks. This evolution of connectivity followed the 10X speed jumps pretty well until we reached 100GbE. When the industry saw the challenges of making 100GbE affordable in the 2010 timeframe, the industry developed 40GbE as an interim, lower-cost step. 40GbE has taken off and is expected to sell over 6 million switch ports in 2015 according to Dell’Oro.
40GbE opened the door for non-10X steps in speed and thus the camel’s nose was under the tent. Pretty soon everyone was sitting out under the stars. With this open air thinking, many people saw opportunities to standardize 25GbE and 2.5GbE. Why wait for 100GbE SFP+ when you’ll have to wait at least 5 years? Why not use a 25GbE SFP28 and how about 50GbE?
IEEE will try to start standardizing 50GbE, 100GbE (2X50G) and 200GbE (4X50GbE) in November in IEEE. Why should we only run our Cat 6 infrastructure at GbE when it can support 2.5G? Start another standard for 2.5 and 5GBASE-T. Hard disk drives (HDD) want something between GbE and 10GbE. OK, give them 2.5 and 5GbE as a backplane interface and change the cold storage market.
The door is open. What Ethernet application do you want IEEE to standardize? How about automotive? Done. Want your campus network to run 25GbE up to 10km? That’s coming too. There’s a new way of thinking in IEEE and Ethernet will never be the same.
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.