2023 in Review: The Ethernet Ecosystem & the Unfolding Technology Revolution
In this year in review blog, Ethernet Alliance Chair Peter Jones shares his reflections on 2023 and looks forward to the bright future of Ethernet.
2023 has been a wild ride.
Coming off a quiet 2022, 2023 has been a real barn burner. From celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Ethernet to successful interoperability demos and plugfests, the Ethernet Alliance has been busy advancing the global adoption of Ethernet across markets.
Ethernet and Artificial Intelligence
I think we can easily call 2023, the “Year of Artificial Intelligence”. The explosive growth of Chat-GPT and similar Generative AI tools occupied a large part of the technology discussion space. All of the world’s key technology players now have Generative AI strategies and products, spanning various levels of maturity. And though the race to the top is still ongoing, Nvidia has emerged as a big winner, with its revenues skyrocketing on the back of demand for its GPUs in Generative AI applications.
While many of these new AI systems have been deployed using combinations of other technologies like InfiniBand, NVLink, and pure optical interconnect, we are seeing a movement to address this market using Ethernet. This effort is being led by groups such as the Ultra Ethernet Consortium, which aims to “deliver a complete architecture that optimizes Ethernet for high performance AI and HPC networking, exceeding the performance of today’s specialized technologies.”
A Huge Opportunity for Ethernet
The apparently inexhaustible appetite for network bandwidth to support massive deployments of AI training and inferencing systems represents both a challenge and a huge opportunity for the Ethernet industry. The consumers of these systems are demanding that the industry hasten the pace of innovation to prevent the network from becoming a technology deployment and adoption bottleneck.
What does that mean for us? The pace of technology development must accelerate, even as corresponding technology challenges keep mounting. The Ethernet industry will continue to deliver increases in speed, via the work being done in IEEE 802.3dj 200 Gb/s, 400 Gb/s, 800 Gb/s, and 1.6 Tb/s, but that’s simply not enough. We must also focus on energy efficiency, product sustainability and adoptability. Luckily, that’s what the Ethernet ecosystem excels at. Emerging technologies including Linear Drive Pluggable Optics (LPO), Coherent Optics, Liquid Cooling will all play a part in this unfolding technology revolution.
Booming Growth in 2023: Campus Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Data Center Ethernet
Looking at other markets with significant growth in 2023, mid-year we witnessed mammoth growth in Campus Ethernet. As noted in a Dell’Oro report, “1Q 2023 worldwide Campus Switch sales were up 40 percent, the highest growth level recorded in this market in over two decades.” Additionally, Wi-Fi hit the headlines as “WLAN Growth Hits Ten-Year High”. And we also saw a boom in Data Center Ethernet, with data center switch sales reaching near-record levels in 3Q on the back of the supply chain’s recovery at the beginning of the year. This has since calmed down a little, as customers work to deploy the infrastructure equipment delivered to them.
Bright Future Ahead: Building and Industrial Automation, Automotive Ethernet
Ethernet continues to make strides in the building and industrial automation space. The Industrial Ethernet 2023 market is estimated to be in the region of $10B and expected to grow at ~7.5% CAGR through 2032. I expect Automotive Ethernet to burn rubber off the line during the next few years, given 2023 market estimates in the order of $1.8B and growth expectations hovering at ~22% CAGR over the next decade.
When I look around, I see growing markets everywhere and a continuing need for the work of the Ethernet Alliance.
Happy 50th birthday Ethernet; I’m looking forward to what the next 50 brings.