Looking Beyond 100 Gigabit Ethernet

By John D'Ambrosia

At this point in my career I have been fortunate enough to wear many hats, but the biggest hat I wore was when I agreed to lead the IEEE standardization effort to develop the next speed after 10 Gigabit Ethernet.  It led to me switching jobs, losing sleep occasionally, and left me with less hair than I had before (which sadly turned greyer).  I gained some things as well – a few lbs which I am working to lose, patience, experience that I don’t think you can get anywhere else, and perhaps the best thing of all – perspective. 

Next week, I will get to leverage this perspective,  as I travel to WDM & Next Generation Optical Networking to moderate a panel entitled, “100G + – Standards, Systems, Architectures and Components.”  It is a distinguished panel consisting of Ghani Abbas of Ericcson, who is a board member of the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF); David Law of HP, who chairs the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group; Peter Stassar of Huawei, who is a participant of ITU-T; and Yoshinori Koike, a research engineer with NTT Labs.   This respected group of individuals will look beyond the need for 100G, the technologies that will need to be developed, and discuss the role of the different standards groups and how they will need to work together to develop the next speed.

Personally, I think one of the biggest legacies of the IEEE P802.3ba 40 Gigabit Ethernet and 100 Gigabit Ethernet project is how individuals in different standards groups worked together to effectively deliver solutions supporting 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit Ethernet  solutions that operate together seamlessly throughout the entire Ethernet ecosystem.  This legacy has helped set an expectation on how the next industry rate development effort should be conducted.

The timing of this panel is excellent.  The work of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment (BWA) Ad hoc has been completed, and final approval of the report is expected at the IEEE 802 July Plenary.  A tutorial presentation will be given at this meeting highlighting the findings of the group.  (For more information about the meeting see http://802world.org/plenary/.  For more information about the tutorial see http://www.ieee802.org/Tutorials.shtml.)  If you think I am going to spill the beans about the finding here – SORRY!

Discussions regarding the next speed have been happening for the last two years.  It feels different now, as it is becoming more obvious to the industry that the data tsunami driving the deployment of 40 Gigabit Ethernet and 100 Gigabit Ethernet will also create new bottlenecks where the ecosystem, once again, will need a higher speed solution.  Scott Kipp, the President of the Ethernet Alliance, shared a quote with me, which I took to heart as I chaired the IEEE 802.3 BWA Ad hoc:

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.“ – Albert Bartlett – American Scholar

Let’s keep that in mind as we move forward!