New 40G Ethernet spec sought

The IEEE recently formed a study group to look at establishing a new standard related to 40 Gigabit Ethernet.

Specifically, the group is looking at the need for a 40G Ethernet single-mode fiber PMD, or Physical Medium Dependent, standard. This is the physical interface to the network, and it would largely apply to carrier networks.

The group represents a separate effort from the IEEE task force already moving toward a standard for 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit Ethernet. During a call for interest a couple of months ago, proponents for a new standard suggested that the 40GBase-LR4 spec being put forth by the task force is “optically incompatible” with the installed base of single-mode fiber equipment, making a new standard necessary.

If carriers could deploy modules that support other standards in addition to 40 Gigabit Ethernet, such as OC-768 SONET, it would simplify deployment and reduce costs, the argument goes. And if carriers could deploy them side by side, Ethernet would enter those carrier environments faster. Having Ethernet in carrier networks helps the entire Ethernet ecosystem, reducing costs and increasing volumes.

The study group still has to tackle some question about what the best approach is, but many of the 88 attendees of the call for interest voted in favor of getting the study group going. If the members are able to nail down the objectives and present a compelling case, the group can turn into a task force and start work on the details of a standard.

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