Terabit Ethernet? The Game Is Afoot!

By John D'Ambrosia

Wow! Hats off to IIR for the great job with this year’s WDM & Next Generation Optical Networking Conference. While the conference title would bring to mind the service provider networks, enabling the ecosystem was the real story. From supporting data center and cloud applications to virtualizing networks to the concerns of operating networks in a cost effective manner to energy efficiency. It was all being examined.

Interest in starting the next speed is clearly building. “The Next Rate” was clearly one of the big discussions on the floor. As you can imagine this went in many directions:

• We need to get started…..
• The next rate should be 400 Gigabit per second.
• The next rate should be Terabit per second.
• The IEEE should do both rates at the same time. (That one caught me offguard!)
• Rates need to make sense for client and line side applications.
• The next rate will make only make sense if the cost per gigabit goes down.

The panel I moderated was titled “Preparing for 100G+ – Standards, Systems, Architecture, and Components.” The Ethernet Alliance worked with IIR to organize this panel, which brought together individuals from the IEEE, ITU-T, and the OIF. Everyone on the panel recognized the need for the various groups to work together on the next rate jump, as we truly live in a networked world.

These discussion will no doubt continue with next month’s anticipated approval and release of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Ad Hoc report and even grow louder with suppliers pointing to the technical feasibility and economic viability of exiting 400Gb/s solutions while end-users point to the desire for Terabit Ethernet.

Participating in WDM & Next Generation Optical Networking 2012 brought back a sense of déjà-vu for me as I remembered the debates that raged during the early 2007 debates about 40GbE versus 100GbE. So, it would seem that things are about to get interesting once again. As Sherlock Holmes said, “the game is afoot!”