What’s next for Ethernet?

The latest Ethernet Alliance roadmap predicts higher speeds over longer distances for the protocol as driven by the needs of service providers, particularly their deployments of 5G.

Network Networking Ethernet
Martyn Williams/IDGNS

Higher, more cost-efficient speeds and getting better integration between IT and operational technology (OT) environments are two of the hottest areas of Ethernet development.

That was on display this week at the Optical Fiber Communication conference where the Ethernet Alliance issued its latest Ethernet Roadmap, and a variety of vendors showed off the interoperability of the ubiquitous networking technology, now nearly 50 years old.

“Ethernet is the most important thing in the world that no one ever sees,” said Peter Jones, chair of the Ethernet Alliance and distinguished engineer with the Enterprise, Data Center & IoT Networks group at Cisco.

The Ethernet Alliance has been on a mission to make Ethernet developments get the attention of the industry and has, with the exception of 2021, released the roadmap of key trends and directions since 2015  to keep everyone up to date.

Ethernet speed is inevitably a hot topic.  Ethernet has evolved from 10Mb/sec to 400G and will go to 800G or possibly 1 terabyte Ethernet by about 2030, according to the roadmap. “The consumption of Ethernet bandwidth is not going to go down anytime soon,” Jones said. 

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