IEEE forms 25G Ethernet study group

IEEE follows formation of vendor consortium to develop product for data centers

On the heels of the formation of a vendor consortium to promote the need, the IEEE this week said it will explore standardization of 25Gbps Ethernet.

The standards organization has formed an 802.3 25G Ethernet study group to consider market opportunities and requirements for a single-lane 25G Ethernet speed for server interconnects. The formation of the study group follows formation of the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium almost three weeks ago by a handful of vendors that have defined a specification for 25G and 50G Ethernet for data centers requiring greater than 10/40G.

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The IEEE says this vendor consortium did not force its hand -- considerable interest at last week’s IEEE plenary meeting was the impetus.

“Recognition of the need is what drove it,” said Mark Nowell, chair of the 25G Ethernet study group and a senior director at Cisco. Cisco said it would join the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium once it completed its review of the group’s Adopter Agreement.

“The consortium is a manifestation of the same thing,” Nowell said, referring to recognition of a near term requirement.

Interest for 25G was first explored at a poorly attended IEEE plenary in China in March, Nowell said. There was virtually none, but last week’s plenary in San Diego found considerable appetite for it, he said.

A consortium representative from Arista Networks said the group couldn’t wait for the IEEE standards process to start – let alone complete – before embarking on product spec’ing and development. It took four years to complete the 40/100G Ethernet work and the IEEE expects the same amount of time for 400G Ethernet standardization.

Not so with 25G, Nowell says. The signaling and single-lane technology for 25G was developed during the 100G Ethernet process, which is four lanes of 25G. All the IEEE has to do is rewrite existing physical layer specs, which should produce a standard in as little as 18 months, he says.

“Everything is ready for us to leverage,” Nowell said. “There’s not a lot to discover.”

The reuse of serial lane 25G signaling will also enable cost optimized deployments in newly constructed data centers, especially for server interconnects that support 10G Ethernet and beyond, the IEEE believes.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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