Fast and Furious Demo at OFC 2014

By Scott Kipp

The Ethernet Alliance booth at OFC 2014 showcases many of the latest advances in Ethernet technology.  From 10GBASE-T to 100GbE CFP4 modules, the booth will highlight how Ethernet’s physical layer is getting faster all the time.  The unique aspect of this demo is that it shows interoperability across multiple vendors and generations of products.  The best example of this interoperability is how the Ethernet Alliance will show three generations of 100GbE modules in the CFP, CFP2 and CFP4.  The overall view of the topology is shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: High Level View of Demo Network

Showing multiple generations of 100GbE is an important step towards widespread adoption of 100GbE.  The first generation of 100GbE was standardized in 2010 and is based on the CAUI-10 electrical interface that has 10 lanes of 10 Gb/s.  The second generation of 100GbE is based on CAUI-4 with 4 lanes of 25Gb/s and should complete standardization early next year.  The CFP2, which was demonstrated last year in the Ethernet Alliance booth, bridges both of these standards by supporting CAUI-10 and CAUI-4.  The newest 100GbE form factor is the CFP4 and it only supports CAUI-4 in a much smaller form factor that can support 16 100GbE ports in a single row of a 1U switch.  The demonstration will show CFP4 modules that support 100GBASE-SR4 and 100GBASE-LR4 to 10km.  With the smaller CFP4 form factors, more 100GbE ports can be placed in a switch and the cost of the ports can be reduced.

While 100GbE is the fastest currently deployed Ethernet speed, the new workhorse in the data center is 40GbE.  While 100GbE is used outside of data centers right now, 40GbE is used within the data center because of its low cost.  40GbE is often less expensive than 4 ports of 10GbE, so applications like the core of the network are switching from 10GbE to 40GbE.  The core network of the demo is running 40GbE and 40GbE NICs are also showing 40GbE connectivity.

Low cost 10GbE servers are another theme of the event.  In addition to 10GbE NICs that support up to 10 kilometers with 10GBASE-L, the demo displays 10GBASE-T that runs over CAT7 cabling to 100 meters.  The 10GBASE-T links will help lower the cost of high speed server connectivity.

In addition to the live demo and static displays in the booth, the Ethernet Alliance will also be hosting a number of panels that will discuss a number of Ethernet topics on March 11th in Theater III of San Francisco’s Moscone Center.  The topics include:

  • 100G Single Lamba Optics ‚Äď 2:30pm PT. Panelists will discuss optics ability to scale to meet growing demand for larger data centers and ultra-dense 100GbE and 400GbE, as well as the potential path forward for single wavelength 100GbE optical interfaces for future network applications.
  • Snapshot on 400GE Standardization¬†‚Äď 3:15pm PT. Panelists will explore survey topics currently under discussion within the recently formed IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) IEEE 802.3 400 Gigabyte per second (Gb/s) Ethernet study group.
  • New Standards for Ethernet Access Networks ‚Äď 4:00pm PT. Panelists will examine Ethernet‚Äôs demonstrated success in the deployment of Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Networks (GEPON) and 10G-EPON subscriber access networks. Discussions will also center around new IEEE P1904.1 Service Interoperability for EPON (SIPEON) and IEEE P802.3bn EPON Protocol over Coax (EPoC) standards, and their implications for the next generation of Ethernet Access Networks.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy the show and see the latest Ethernet technologies.

By Scott Kipp

President of the Ethernet Alliance