Ethernet Alliance

Ethernet Alliance Blog

Power to the People – Delivering on the Promise of PoE

By Ethernet Alliance

The Ethernet community never stops innovating. We’re always pushing the boundaries, finding new ways of advancing this important technology that has become the cornerstone of today’s high-speed networks. As we embark on the next Ethernet era, the industry is hard at work on an array of innovations that will drive Ethernet to higher speeds, and into more applications and markets. Ultimately, this work will benefit end users at every level, from the data center, to the enterprise, to consumers looking to take advantage of emerging Internet of Things (IoT) and automotive products and services.

One of the important innovations gaining traction in the marketplace is Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE reduces network installation complexities and cost, and improves energy management by enabling delivery of power over existing Ethernet cables for IP network devices like Voice over IP (VoIP) phones, cameras, lighting, and wireless access points.

We see a wide mix of proprietary, quasi-standard, and IEEE 802.3™ standards-based PoE products popping up. While having a variety of PoE solutions to choose from is a good thing, it can also lead to some head-scratching moments of confusion – how do you pick from an abundance of PoE products and still rest assured that you’re getting the plug-and-play interoperability and reliability that is Ethernet’s hallmark?

As PoE’s many benefits continue to attract ever-greater numbers of end users, there’s an inherent need to minimize confusion over the growing diversity of products and solutions. Products based on IEEE 802.3 PoE specifications bring with them predictable power delivery, proven interoperability, and increased network safety. But, figuring out whether your PoE solution of choice meets those standards can be a tricky business. And that’s where the Ethernet Alliance comes in.

The Ethernet Alliance just launched a new PoE certification program that will enable end users to identify at a glance those products designed to released IEEE 802.3 PoE standards. As part of this new initiative, Ethernet manufacturers and vendors can submit their equipment for verification testing against the Ethernet Alliance’s PoE certification specification, which conforms to current IEEE 802.3 PoE standards. After successfully completing testing, products will be designated as PoE certified and allowed to use the program’s certified logo. They’ll also be added to a searchable public registry of EA PoE-Certified products.

By empowering them to quickly and easily find products certified against IEEE 802.3 PoE standards, we’re reducing confusion and improving the overall experience for end users. And it’s a win-win situation for the industry too – this program opens the door to new business opportunities between powered device (PD) manufacturers and power sourcing equipment (PSE) vendors, while simultaneously helping to increase end user trust in PoE and Ethernet.

What it comes down to is this – it doesn’t matter if you’re talking wired or wireless, everything still needs power. PoE holds the promise of being able to meet that need with minimum hassle, but maintaining interoperability and robust Ethernet performance is a must. The Ethernet Alliance PoE certification program delivers on the promise of PoE by taking the guesswork out of the equation and getting power to the right people at the right place at the right time.

There’s lots more to learn about the Ethernet Alliance PoE certification program, so come check it out now.

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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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Stepping on the Gas – Ethernet goes High Speed at OFC 2017

By Ethernet Alliance

For me, the OFC 2017 Ethernet Alliance booth perfectly captures the mood of the show overall, including demand for ever-higher speeds, and their implications and requirements. There continues to be an insatiable drive for more – more video, more cloud-based services, and more interactions on social media. All this demands ever-increasing network throughput and resilience…and OFC is a demonstration of how the optical industry is organizing to supply it.

Showcased in the Ethernet Alliance booth will be a live 400GbE network. Multiple participating vendors including cable, silicon, optics, and test tools providers will be running this network across the show floor, with the hub in the Ethernet Alliance booth. For me, this is a must-see demonstration. Even though the standard is not quite complete, the technology is mature enough to be incorporated into nodes and interconnects that can already be put together into operational networks.

In some ways, the Ethernet Alliance booth is a practical demonstration of all the technology that is presented and discussed in the OFC’s rich collection of tutorials, panels, short courses, symposia, and workshops.  There are hundreds of choices, making the week a great opportunity to brush up on my technical skills. However, whether you are studying new optical fiber designs, or new modulation techniques, or new photonics capabilities, they will eventually come together in a live high-speed network – like what the Ethernet Alliance is demonstrating.

Also in the Ethernet Alliance booth is a seemingly passé demonstration of 100G, 25G, and 10G interoperability. There is a dizzying array of PMDs and transceiver form factors on display in the interoperability demonstration – for example CFP8, QSFP28, QSFP, SFP28, and SFP+. A walk around the trade show floor will uncover hundreds of suppliers for all these technologies.

What this highlights for me, as a test equipment vendor, is one of the most important industry trends.  This new dynamic will be discussed in the Ethernet Alliance-hosted panel, The Fracturing and Burgeoning Ethernet Market. For enterprises and service providers deploying new high-speed Ethernet, there have never been so many great options – speeds, cabling infrastructure, transceiver form factors.  For suppliers into this market, it is difficult to find solutions that enable all those choices. Simultaneously, vendors are facing exploding growth and yet hard to chase down market niches. This will be a great panel discussion that I’m definitely looking forward to.

If you are lucky enough to attend the conference, take advantage of the chance to learn some new skills.  Then, come by the Ethernet Alliance booth #3709 and see all this technology in action!

Author:  Paul Mooney

Paul Mooney is the Director of Product Management for Spirent’s Hardware and Software Platforms. He is responsible for the definition, development and support of several lines of test equipment including the flagship Spirent Test Center.

 

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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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Ethernet ecosystem driven by applications, not speed alone

By Ethernet Alliance

In an article recently published in Network World Dave Chalupsky, a member of the Ethernet Alliance board of directors, describes how Ethernet applications now drive new Ethernet incarnations.

Chalupsky articulates Ethernet’s development from its humble beginnings over 30 years ago as a means to connect computers to printers at 10 Mb/s to the “need for speed” as networks and data centers sought higher throughput. As Ethernet has served many unanticipated applications, a diverse Ethernet ecosystem has evolved.

“In this new paradigm,” as Chalupsky writes, “the Ethernet roadmap combines new and existing data rates with other attributes to meet various applications’ requirements.”

New application requirements may include distance, environment, ease-of-use and flexibility, physical infrastructure reuse and even the size and weight of cabling.

Two new Ethernet specifications illustrate Chalupsky’s points.

The relatively recent requirement for in-vehicle networking with its demand for lightweight cabling and robustness in harsh environmental conditions has driven new two new standards. IEEE 802.3bw™-2015 100BASE-T1 and IEEE 802.3bp™-2016 1000BASE-T1 standards provide 100 Mb/s and 1000 Mb/s Ethernet, respectively, over a single twisted pair copper cable in the “connected car.”

As Chalupsky points out, new application requirements and the “need for speed” may drive automotive Ethernet specifications and standards to go both slower and faster. Cost- and power-sensitive devices that don’t move much data may benefit from a single-pair 10 Mb/s specification, while autonomous, self-driving vehicles may propel networking bandwidth needs well past 1 Gb/s.

In his article, Chalupsky discusses emerging Power over Ethernet (PoE) requirements for higher bandwidth applications as well as how the ongoing needs of enterprise campus applications have also driven a choice of speed, combined with other attributes. The emerging network needs of the Internet of Things (IoT) will drive new applications as well.

For more discussion on these topics check out the article and let us know what you think.

 

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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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“The future of Ethernet, one of the highest quality, market relevant Standards on the planet Earth”

By Paul Nikolich

Let’s wind the clock back 35 years to see where we’ve come from in order to predict where we’re going in the next 10 years.  The 802.3 Ethernet standard has changed a lot through an evolutionary process driven by the computer networking marketplace.  Back in 1980 the Ethernet visionaries needed a means of connecting the computer systems of that era; mainframes, minicomputer, PCs.  Ethernet was developed to inexpensively connect those systems in flexible ways that would meet the end-users needs.  The 802.3 Ethernet Working Group was comprised of a set of world class engineers that developed the Ethernet Standard Specifications to the highest technical quality in order to ensure system manufactured by dozens of suppliers would interoperate.  The combination of those two forces; market relevance and publication of only the highest quality technical specifications were key enablers in the explosion of the networking market developing into what it has become today: a crucial element of the fabric on top of which the world’s society operates—all elements of business, government, education, entertainment, etc.  are dependent on a highly reliable communications system, one of the critical components being packet transmission over wires, aka Ethernet.

So now back to the question of what is the future of Ethernet over, say, the next ten years or so.  It is impossible to predict the future with any accuracy, but there are a few things I can predict with confidence.  The 802.3 Working Group will continue to be responsive to the market needs and will continue to be populated by highly innovative world class engineers working in a disciplined, transparent manner to produce high quality standards.  What are those emerging applications to be serviced by Ethernet?  Higher speeds and longer distances will continue to be developed for copper and optical connections.  An emerging driver of the need for higher speeds will be Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Realities (VR, MR and AR).  Just like we couldn’t have imagined the ubiquity of the smart phone 30 years ago, I believe the technologies necessary to create digital realities that are woven into our physical reality are here today—the cost needs to come down, the amount of data they will generate which needs to be shipped from and to the endpoints will be massive, but both the costs will drop and the networking speeds will increase.  These technologies will enable us to be anywhere, anytime, anyplace.  Society will be a very different place from what we know now.  And at its wired core will be Ethernet.

The key to standards development is consensus building, and that starts with people talking.  On September 29, 2016 in Santa Clara, CA, the Ethernet Alliance will bring the industry together to start contemplating the next 10 years of Ethernet at its TEF2016 – “The Road to Ethernet 2026.”.   For more information on this event, including registration, please see http://ethernetalliance.org/the-road-to-ethernet-2026/

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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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Testing and measurement: a pillar of the Ethernet ecosystem

By Ethernet Alliance

Nimble T&M companies support Ethernet’s new speeds and applications

A new article describing the critical role of test and measurement in a rapidly expanding Ethernet ecosystem, written by the Alliance’s own David Rodgers, has been published in Electronic Design.

In the not-so-distant past, the perennial “need for speed” was the primary driver of Ethernet innovation. Today, specific applications for next-generation enterprise, campus and data center Ethernet use – not to mention completely new applications such as vehicular Ethernet and the Internet of Things – are just as important as engines of innovation.  The result is new Ethernet applications in traditional spaces and expansion of Ethernet’s role in the world around us, all supported by the companies working in the test and measurement space, who enable a path to successful commercialization of this immensely useful technology.

As the Ethernet Alliance strives to help accelerate the development of markets for Ethernet, appreciation for the role of test and measurement tools and procedures is in our DNA. Our hats are off to Rodgers for helping to shine a light on this topic and its importance in a widely read industry publication such as Electronic Design.

Here’s how Rodgers, who sits on the Alliance’s board of directors, articulates this point in his article, “Ethernet evolution drives parallel changes in test and measurement process.” 

“Everyone in the Ethernet ecosystem has a stake in the development and use of effective test and measurement tools and, as Ethernet speeds increase for use in existing and new applications, it’s important to understand that T&M tools and how they are applied are evolving as well. It’s often said, ‘the strength of a standard lies in one’s ability to validate it through measurement,’ and that’s what’s happening in the Ethernet-related test and measurement space today.”

The article is highly recommended reading, both for how T&M is valued in the Ethernet ecosystem and for how the Alliance is bringing this story to a wider audience.

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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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“Toward Standardized 25 Gigabit Ethernet” by Mark Nowell, Cisco Systems, in Network Computing

By Ethernet Alliance

Standardization of IEEE 25 Gigabit per second Ethernet (25 GbE) is underway on multiple fronts, and Mark Nowell, vice president of the Ethernet Alliance board of directors and senior director of engineering in Cisco Systems’ data center team, writes about the progress and its drivers in Network Computing.

Because development of many technological components enabling 25 GbE were developed, and because important efforts to explore its technical feasibility and future interoperability had already taken place, Mark writes, standardization in this space of innovation has been rapidly paced.

Mark details the synergistic roles of two recently ratified standards:IEEE 802.3by™, IEEE Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 25 Gb/s Operation (http://standards.ieee.org/develop/project/802.3by.html), and IEEE 802.3bq™, IEEE Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Physical Layer and Management Parameters for 25 Gb/s and 40 Gb/s Operation, Types 25GBASE-T and 40GBASE-T (http://standards.ieee.org/develop/project/802.3bq.html). In addition, he notes, new development of additional IEEE standards for 25 GbE is underway, such as work around supporting additional single-mode fiber reaches for 25 GbE. Because no single cabling configuration would be suitable for every single potential 25 GbE deployment, so standards-development work around 25 GbE has been predicated on the need for flexibility.

“With the standards work around 25 GbE, the entire physical layer—from electrical to optics, from millimeter to kilometer and all media and distances in between—will be aligned in terms of lane counts,” he writes, anticipating adoption across diverse spaces including data centers, the campus/enterprise and wireless backhaul.

To help advance the industry as a whole, the Ethernet Alliance works to facilitate the open exchange of ideas and dialogue. Look to the Ethernet Alliance for more articles like Mark’s in Network Computing, which help illuminate the continued success and advancement of Ethernet technologies.

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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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2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps Ethernet Goes Mainstream

By Peter Jones

Peter Jones, NBASE-T Alliance Chairman

It always amazes me how new innovations keep propelling our industry forward.  Less than two years ago when the NBASE-T Alliance was founded, there was no easy way to take advantage of rapidly improving Wi-Fi bandwidth that we could see coming with IEEE 802.11ac™ Wave2 and yet today, that technology is within our reach.  In September, we expect IEEE will be ratifying the new IEEE P802.3bz™ standard for 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps Ethernet and, as you may have seen in this press release today, the Ethernet Alliance and the NBASE-T Alliance have partnered to help accelerate deployment of products by hosting a joint plugfest event for October 2016 to showcase multi-vendor interoperability.

On behalf of the NBASE-T Alliance, I am looking forward to seeing the great things we can accomplish working with the Ethernet Alliance. I believe it will enable us to drive mainstream deployment of 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps Ethernet technology.  With the technology maturing as fast as it has, this partnership is important for so many reasons. 

First, I believe this is the most significant Ethernet market transition since the 1000BASE-T standard was completed back in 1999.  1000BASE-T has become massively successful, to the point where it’s close to ubiquitous.  The Ethernet Alliance’s mission is to promote IEEE 802™ Ethernet technologies and, since we have many of the same members and share similar goals in this area, it makes perfect sense to work together. 

Secondly, the market opportunity is significant and our two Alliances can do a better job working cooperatively.  We are so fortunate to be able to leverage the massive infrastructure of installed base Category 5e and 6 already in place for NBASE-T technology.  The fact that the industry can get to 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps Ethernet speed without having to rebuild the network is huge.  The last we checked, we had 70 billion meters of cabling and 1.3 billion outlets already installed. This is an enormous asset that we can get more value from. Working with the Ethernet Alliance lets us tell this message to more people in more places.

Upcoming Joint Plugfest

As I mentioned above, plans are well underway for our first joint plugfest.  This is being organized by both the Ethernet Alliance and NBASE-T Alliance and will take place the week of October 10th at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) in Durham, NH.  We both want to accelerate deployment of 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps Ethernet products, and everyone knows that the best way to do that is to get multi-vendor interoperability rock solid. That means we need to get the industry together for events like the plugfest.  I want to personally thank Ethernet Alliance for their help in this event, which demonstrates a key part of their mission of establishing and proving multi-vendor interoperability for new Ethernet technologies.

The interoperability testing in this event will be another major milestone towards the broad commercialization of NBASE-T and IEEE P802.3bz products.  There is already strong support for the plugfest event so get in touch with morgan@ethernetalliance.org or admin@nbaset.org quickly if you want to be involved.

What’s Next?

As we complete the transition from standard definition to standards deployment, there is still much work in rolling this technology out to the broad community currently using 1000BASE-T.  The good news is that supporting 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps Ethernet will enable deployment of the higher-performing Wi-Fi capabilities rolling out from major vendors.  This enables new capabilities throughout the industry by providing the increased bandwidth that we so desperately need, and not just for Wi-Fi access points.   This technology is already available, and as usage spreads, the world can take advantage of it wherever and however they please.  Innovation never stops moving in our industry, and it’s exciting to work with you on this next big change.

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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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Commitment to Interoperability

By Ethernet Alliance

By John D’Ambrosia, Chairman, Ethernet Alliance

“You plug it in, and it works!”

The footprint of Ethernet end users overlays almost every industry and every market around the world. It’s a very diverse group of individuals with unique needs, goals and challenges. However, they are united in one very important way: no matter which vendor’s Ethernet switches and servers they deploy, regardless of whether they change connection medium, switch cable lengths, etc., what all Ethernet users most want and need is assurance that, when they use Ethernet, it’s going to work.

Members of the Ethernet community are familiar with the investment that is made by the industry to ensure multi-vendor interoperability.  As the global information technology (IT) community is challenged to move more quickly than ever to introduce new capabilities, the global Ethernet ecosystem also must move faster to ensure multi-vendor interoperability as standards and technologies evolve. 

Earlier this year the Ethernet Alliance hosted two events at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) – the 40GbE and 100GbE Plugfest and the 25 Gb/s Technical Feasibility Event.  These events are the latest example of the industry’s investment in ensuring the continuation of Ethernet’s legacy of multi-vendor interoperability. 

 Plugfest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the days ahead, the Ethernet Alliance will be announcing the results of the 25Gb/s Technical Feasibility event.  The timing couldn’t be better, as the IEEE 802.3by 25GbE standard is preparing to enter the final stages of the standardization process.  As the industry looks ahead to the future 25GbE standard, it can be assured that the Ethernet Alliance has begun the investment in the future of Ethernet’s interoperability.  To find out more about this investment and the importance of  multi-vendor, real-world interoperability, check out the new Tech Brief from the Ethernet Alliance: Commitment to Ethernet Interoperability.

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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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Killer Video of Ethernet Speeds

By Ethernet Alliance

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.

 

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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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QSFP28 and CFP: Out with the Old and in with the New

By Ethernet Alliance

By Ken Van Orman, Senior Product Manager Hardware and Platforms, Spirent Communications

In this year’s Ethernet Alliance OFC demo, QSFP28 makes an appearance and CFP takes a bow. This reflects the trend in the industry to aggressively bring 100GE density up and costs down. CFP4 is half the width of CFP2, which is half again the width of CFP. QSFP28 has the same footprint and faceplate density as QSFP+ and is just slightly smaller than CFP4. On paper, QSFP28 seems to have the density advantage over CFP4, but CFP4’s higher maximum power consumption gives it the advantage on longer reach optical distances. Only time will tell how this all plays out but in the meantime, there is a richness of choice in the 100G interconnect market.

The important takeaway – and where I see a lot of confusion for those new to 100GE – is that the form factor does not matter when the media connecting them is the same. For example, 100GBASE-LR4 whether from CFP, CFP2, CFP4 or CPAK (more on this later) will interoperate, and you can see this firsthand in the Ethernet Alliance booth.

Rounding out this year’s demo is a mix of 10GE SFP+ and 40GE QSFP+ connections. The QSFP+ interconnects are hard to distinguish from QSFP28 100GE connections so talk to the booth representatives to understand what the actual differences are.

CPAK is another newcomer to this year’s demonstration. This is a proprietary form factor from Cisco but the interfaces demonstrated are IEEE standards and will interoperate with the same interfaces supported by other form-factors. Other vendors participating in the demo are Amphenol; Broadcom; Brocade; Cisco; CommScope; Finisar; Hitachi Cable; Ixia; Juniper; Spirent; and Teledyne LeCroy.

Speaking of QSFP28, I expect to see quite a bit of this form factor throughout the exhibition hall. In the past, a lot of optical transceiver vendors displayed products but this year, I expect to see more switches, NICs, and testers demonstrating QSFP28 product.

Stop by the Ethernet Alliance booth #2531 at OFC 2015 to see our live demonstration, talk to the booth reps about the latest Ethernet technologies, and let us know what you would like to see next year. See you on the show floor!

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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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