Ethernet's 400-Gigabit challenge is a good problem to have

Enterprises, cloud providers and carriers all rely on Ethernet, complicating the push for a faster standard

By , IDG News Service |  Networking

To achieve 400Gbps, they'll need new, faster interfaces to use as building blocks. There's a range of possible options, all of which have different ramifications, participants in the event said. Variables include how much components cost, what kinds of fibers or cables they use over what distances, and when they may be available.

The best way to get to 400-Gigabit Ethernet would be with four 100-Gigabit interfaces, D'Ambrosia and others said. This would help to generate an effect that occurred with the current specification and which D'Ambrosia may propose as an objective in the current process.

It turned out that vendors were able to develop 40Gbps interfaces that enterprises could outfit with so-called "breakout cables" to create four 10-Gigabit Ethernet links. That gave buyers a product that met both their immediate and future needs, and it helped to grow the sales volume of 40-Gigabit interfaces, which in turn drove down the cost of the parts, D'Ambrosia said.

"It was a useful outcome that occurred naturally," Murray of Light Counting said.

Other possibilities include using eight 50Gbps connections or 16 25Gbps connections. Without endorsing any individual approach, Murray cautioned against pushing out a technology that's available sooner but may not match up with current or future needs. If buyers don't see good value in it, they won't buy it in big enough volumes and the industry will have to wait even longer for 400-Gigabit Ethernet to take off, he said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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