The IEEE Standards Association initiates three new Ethernet projects

25G over single-mode fiber, 50/100/200G, and 200/400G

The success of Ethernet has driven a diverse and ever-changing set of applications involving various Ethernet data rates over different media. Historically, the pursuit of higher speeds was paramount, but we have also been working to enable existing Ethernet rates over new distances for specific applications, and to enable new Ethernet rates at intermediate speeds but better optimized to developing applications.

By creating standards for different Ethernet data rates that optimize limited resources like the number of pins, or lanes, on a chip, we're creating a deeper toolkit that provides the network and computing domains with Ethernet rates and reach that will cost-effectively suit their specific applications.

The work of building out “families” of Ethernet standards continues, and the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) recently initiated two new IEEE 802.3 projects, as well as the modification of an existing standard. These projects will deliver standards that support additional Ethernet rates over various media in a cost-effective manner for a range of applications in networking and computing.

At this point, task forces have been established and technical decisions are being made. Because IT executives must plan well ahead for technology transitions and costs, an update on the status of this work and its implications is due.

The three new projects include:

• IEEE P802.3cc, 25Gbps Ethernet over single-mode fiber

• IEEE P802.3cd, 50Gbps, 100Gbps and 200Gbps Ethernet

• IEEE P802.3bs, 200Gbps and 400Gbps Ethernet

The IEEE P802.3cc project will complete the 25 GbE family of physical layer specifications (PHYs). The data center market for 25 GbE short-reach over copper and multi-mode fiber is currently in full swing. The IEEE P802.3cc 25 Gb/s over Single-Mode Fiber Task Force will develop new 10 km and 40 km PHYs over single-mode fiber for 25 GbE. A standard supporting single-lane signaling at 25Gbps will help lower costs for this application. The timeline for completion of this standard is, roughly, sometime in the second half of 2017.

The IEEE P802.3cd Task Force will develop the new 50Gbps Ethernet rate as well as a set of PHYs for 50 GbE, 100 GbE and 200 GbE that can cost-effectively leverage common 50Gbps optical and electrical signaling technologies.  The timeline for completion of IEEE P802.3cd 50Gbps Ethernet is, roughly, in the first half of 2018

The IEEE P802.3bs 400Gbps project is expanding its scope. Originally, 400 GbE was defined by creating 50Gbps single-lane technology, and multiplexing 8 lanes together. The creation of 50Gbps single-lane signaling was the catalyst for the creation of the IEEE P802.3cd project.

During the creation of that project, however, it was realized that the synergies for 200 GbE SMF PHYs with the P802.3bs project meant it made more sense to include it there to accelerate completion. The IEEE P802.3bs 400GbE project modification therefore expands the project to include the definition of the new rate of 200 GbE and 200Gbps single-mode fiber PHYs within its scope. The timeline for completion of the IEEE P802.3bs project is late 2017.

Copper, multimode fiber and single-mode fiber PHYs will be developed for all three Ethernet rates.

It’s worth noting that the success of IEEE 802 standards has always been based on their open, transparent, inclusive development process conducted by IEEE-SA, with full participation by industry. These latest IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group projects will address the increasing needs for speeds and reach targeted at specific applications, and help ensure best practices are implemented through the principles of standardization.

If you're an IT executive eyeing your technology roadmap, rest assured that industry participants are working to address your needs and we now have timetables for the delivery of standards that will enable the solutions you need in your toolkit.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

SD-WAN buyers guide: Key questions to ask vendors (and yourself)