IEEE chooses two higher speeds for Ethernet

* Higher Speed Study Group will pursue both 40Gbps and 100Gbps

Should the next standard speed of Ethernet be 40Gbps or 100Gbps? Last week the IEEE's Higher Speed Study Group finally came up with an answer: both.

We saw last month how the group, which had seemed to settle on 100Gbps as the next speed for Ethernet, actually continued to be divided over whether the speed should be 40Gbps or 100Gbps. Last week's meeting was to be a crossroads; the group had to choose a path. It could split into two groups or it could just choose one speed or the other.

The group chose a third option. There will be a single task force working on both speeds, which is the first time such a thing has happened. The project will include the 40Gbps rate for server and storage applications and the 100Gbps rate for aggregation.

The Ethernet Alliance issued a statement laying out the rationale for the dual-speed objectives:

"The HSSG investigated the needs and requirements for the next speed of Ethernet technology. A key finding was a divergence in bandwidth demand between the networking and computing industries. It was discovered 100GbE would likely best meet the demands of the next generation Internet backbone and network aggregation points. In enterprise computing, 40GbE better matches the bandwidth demand driven by server technologies such as host bus interfaces, memory speeds, and multi-core processing."

The group proposed physical-layer interfaces that would allow distances of up to 100 meters for 40Gbps and up to 40 kilometers for 100Gbps.

However, by pursuing both standards in the same group, is the group biting off more than it can chew? This will be a grand experiment.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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