Ethernet 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T grows, testing on tap from UNH lab

Dell Oro report says NBASE-T Ethernet port shipments will eclipse 5 million ports

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The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) said it would begin offering testing and standards conformance services 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet products.

The broad testing services safeguard that Ethernet products and services are interoperable and will help customers boost network speed up to five times without requiring cabling infrastructure changes.

The Ethernet Alliance in September wrote that the IEEE 802.3bz Standard for Ethernet Amendment sets Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 2.5G and 5Gbps Operation lets access layer bandwidth evolve incrementally beyond 1Gbps, it will help address emerging needs in a variety of settings and applications, including enterprise, wireless networks.

The need for such testing is growing as customers begin rolling out new 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T products. In September the IEEE ratified the speedier Ethernet specification -- IEEE P802.3bz – that defines 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T, boosting the current top speed of traditional Ethernet five-times without requiring the tearing out of current cabling.

+More on Network World: IEEE sets new Ethernet standard that brings 5X the speed without disruptive cable changes+

“The applications for NBASE-T solutions are vast and growing. Enterprise, small medium business, industrial and home networks can take advantage of this technology to enable higher capacity wireless access points and faster downloads to client systems such as medical imaging systems that work with large data files, upgraded industrial and home networks,” the NBASE-T Alliance wrote of the ratification.

More recently, the Dell’Oro Group wrote of NBASE-T: “Despite the limited availability of products, market shipments of NBASE-T in the second half of 2016 surged “We interpret these results as a reflection that Enterprise users are hungry for multi-gigabit bandwidth to support the traffic from their wireless devices. The confluence of widespread availability of NBASE-T Ethernet switches are now matching the widespread availability of 802.11ac Wave 2 Wireless LAN products. Both go hand-in-hand to reduce frustration of mobile users in the Enterprise,” said Tam Dell’Oro, President of Dell’Oro Group.

“Looking at 2017, we have raised our forecast as we predict NBASE-T port shipments will proliferate, eclipsing 5 M ports, as merchant silicon-based switches come to market. This is about one year after Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard Enterprise began shipping products based on their own ASICs. By later this year and into early 2018, we expect the massive annual shipment levels of 1 Gbps to peak, then begin to decline, as users migrate their Campus networks,” Dell’Oro continued.

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The lab will offer test suites that include:

  • NICs, Switches, Transceivers, Routers, and other devices.
  • Wireless APs using 2.5 and 5GBASE-T, .SFP+, QSFP+ to 4xSFP+, XFP, XENPAK, X2, and XPAK modules
  • Ports types including: 2.5, 5, and 10GBASE-T, 10GBASE-SR, 10GBASE-LR, 10GBASE-ER, SFP+ Direct Attach Cables, CX-4,XAUI
  • Conformance testing for products based on both the NBASE-T specification and IEEE 802.3bz

UNH-IOL said it will be hosting a second joint Ethernet Alliance and NBASE-T Alliance 2.5G and 5G BASE-T plugfest later in 2017.

Recently he 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium, completed a 25G and 50G Ethernet plugfest at UNH-IOL that included Arista, Cisco, Dell, HPE, Intel and other players in that arena.  From the group, highights of the plugfest included:

  • Interoperability between vendors including adapters, switches, test and measurement devices, and interconnects
  • Proving advanced infrastructure connectivity
  • Plug and play multi-vendor compatibility
  • Successful auto-negotiation
  • Support for both forward and backward compatibility

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