Ethernet: Not a Moment in Time

By John D'Ambrosia


This weekend I was helping my oldest son with homework for his “Introduction to Geometry” class. As we were working through his first foray into proofs, I made the comment that one of the things I always liked about math was that there was a correct answer that was not based on someone’s opinion.  This led to a discussion of how I got into engineering, and what had motivated me to become an engineer.  My answer was simple, “I wanted to be a Disney Imagineer.”  I remembered that backstage tour of Disney, and how much of an impact it had on me. 

It’s ironic looking back now that as I was contemplating my major in college, Ethernet was emerging from its first year as a ratified standard.  In that time Ethernet has progressively moved from 10 Mb/s to 100 Mb/s to 1 Gb/s to 10 Gb/s to 40Gb/s and 100 Gb/s.  And as many of you may know, I am leading the IEEE 802.3 Study Group that is contemplating 400 Gb/s Ethernet.  It covers distances up to a few inches on a printed circuit board to 40 km.  It has moved out of enterprise networks, and is everywhere today.  In fact, at last year’s Superbowl, Power Over Ethernet is what kept wireless networks working when the power went out.  Ethernet has changed and evolved, and as a result is changing the world.

Metcalfe’s Law states the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system.  It should be noted that the value itself is not noted.  In essence, Ethernet is driving networking of the world and has had a cultural, economic, and social impact on the world today.

In 2013 we celebrate 40 years of Ethernet and 30 years of Ethernet standards.  On October 15 the Ethernet Alliance will kicki-off the Technology Exploration Forum 2013 (TEF 2013), a two-day event to contemplate the future of Ethernet which will bring together the brightest minds of the Ethernet industry to discuss and contemplate today, tomorrow and beyond.  From its synergist interaction with complimentary networking technologies to the very technologies that will power Ethernet to its future to its expansion into new application areas, Ethernet is not a moment or point in time, but an era whose end is not yet in sight.

For those in the Santa Clara area, take a moment to review the Ethernet Alliance’s Technology Exploration Forum’s 2013 agenda at http://ethernetalliance.org/the-future-of-ethernet-agenda/.  With Bob Metcalfe, the father of Ethernet, as the event keynote, and a roomful of the Ethernet industry’s best and brightest, this will be an exciting two days.   TEF 2013 will be held October 15 and 16 in Santa Clara at the Techmart Facility in Santa Clara, CA.  Further details can be found at http://ethernetalliance.org/event-details-registration/.  We look forward to seeing you there!

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