Standardization work on next Ethernet gets under way

* IEEE task force focused on speedier Ethernet to meet next week

The IEEE's Higher Speed Study Group has hit an important milestone and next week will meet for the first time in a new form.

Last month, the IEEE approved the group's project authorization request, which for a study group means it can become a task force and move from studying options and laying out goals to actually defining what will be the standard.

So, that means that when the Higher Speed Study Group meets next week in Portland, Ore., it will now be the IEEE 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s Ethernet Task Force, with the designation 802.3ba. That's not to be confused with 802.3ab, the standard for 1000Base-T, or Gigabit Ethernet over copper cabling, which was standardized eight years ago and is now used in products all over the place.

Remember that the study group had a hard time deciding between 40Gbps and 100Gbps as the next standard speed for Ethernet, which is why you see the dual speeds reflected in the task force's name. Yes, the task force will be pursuing standards for both data rates.

The rationale given at the time was that 100Gbps would better meet the huge bandwidth demands of the Internet's backbone and network aggregation points, while 40Gbps would be better suited to the server level.

The task force has a lot of work ahead of it. At the last meeting of the study group, in November, there were dozens of presentations from members of the group, so it would appear that they are eager to get going on it.

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