New Ethernet Alliance TeraFabric Plugfest Technical White Paper Shows the Future is in Sight

By Patrick Strick

The Ethernet Alliance often holds plugfests where vendors working within specific technology areas like 10GbE or Data Center Bridging come together for weeklong equipment interoperability testing, and checking and verifying compliance with respective specifications.

In 2012, we took this concept to an entirely new level by holding a broad-focus event – the TeraFabric Plugfest – encompassing multiple technologies within the Ethernet ecosystem. Among the diverse technologies represented included 40Gb Ethernet, the IEEE-ratified version of data center bridging (802.1Qaz), 10 and 40Gb active optical cables, QSFP 40Gb modular connectors (40GBASE-CR4), 40Gb to 4x10Gb fan-out cables, and 10Gb over twisted-pair cabling (10GBASE-T). Among the protocols tested were Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and iSCSI DCB running multiple priorities and multiple lossless classes…and then we put it all together by simulating a real-world data center environment capable of 1 terabit of throughput. Not bad for just a week’s time.

Accomplishing this required bringing together some 20 vendors from across the Ethernet industry with their equipment at the University of New Hampshire’s InterOperability Laboratory – no small feat in itself. But we managed to do so, and at the end of October 2012, the TeraFabric Plugfest testing and interoperability event was launched. Turnout for TeraFabric was excellent, with participants representing a diverse cross-section of the Ethernet landscape. Companies taking part included Amphenol Corporation, Applied Micro, Broadcom Corporation, Cisco Systems, CommScope, Inc., Dell Networking and Dell EqualLogic, Emulex Corporation, Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., Intel Corporation, Ixia, JDS Uniphase Corp, Leviton Manufacturing Co., NetApp Inc., Nexans S.A., Panduit Corp., PLX Technology, Inc., QLogic Corporation, Samtec, Inc., Siemon Company, TE Connectivity Ltd., and Volex.

The TeraFabric Plugfest was an undeniably valuable event for our member companies, and we want to share what we have learned with the broader community, as well. To do so, the Ethernet Alliance is today publishing an informative white paper describing the approach taken and testing accomplished during this first-of-its-kind plugfest. The takeaway for data center managers and the Ethernet industry as a whole is this: Not only is the next generation of converged Ethernet networks here – the technology is sound, truly interoperable, and ready for real-world deployments and broad-scale adoption – the generation beyond that is already in sight.

You can learn more by downloading your copy of about the Ethernet Alliance’s TeraFabric Plugfest white paper now:

Patrick Strick

Technical Chair, Data Center Subcommittee, Ethernet Alliance

Technical Marketing Engineer, Data Center Platforms, NetApp