400 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) Project Approved

By John D'Ambrosia

Yesterday, the IEEE P802.3bs 400GbE Project was approved.  With this approval the first Task Force meeting will be in Norfolk, VA, at the IEEE 802.3 / 802.1 Interim Meeting, which is coincidentally being hosted by the Ethernet Alliance.  For information regarding the meeting and registration, please see http://bit.ly/802Interim.  The Task Force will begin its meeting on Monday, May 12.


For the past year the industry has been gathering at IEEE 802.3 400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group meetings to determine the future of Ethernet’s next rate, 400GbE.  This is part of the next steps in the IEEE 802’s quest to develop market relevant standards for the networking industry.  The concept of market relevance is key at this point in history, as the application of networking in so many new ways is poised to revolutionize the world around us.  I would argue that market relevance is probably best summed up by the concept of market need, which must be considered on a case-by-case basis. 


For example, I personally don’t think that anyone is expecting 400GbE to ship in the same volumes as Gigabit Ethernet during its first 15 years of existence.  This does not diminish the market relevance of 400GbE, as the market relevance of “fat pipes” to support data aggregation at key points and nodes have grown in significance.  The IEEE Std 802.3baTM 40GbE and 100GbE standard, the last project that explored a higher speed Ethernet, ultimately introduced two new speeds of Ethernet – 40GbE for servers and 100GbE for networking, as the bandwidth requirements for networking were observed to be greater than computing / servers.  The IEEE 802.3 Bandwidth Assessment Ad hoc further vindicated these findings, predicting that in 2015 on average networks would need to support Terabit capacities or 10x the bandwidth requirements of 2010, and in 2020 on average networks would need to support 10 Terabit capacities or 100x the bandwidth requirements of 2010.


So as the pervasive nature of networking invades our lives, the need to support the aggregation of data has continued unabated.  And with the approval of the IEEE P802.3bs 400GbE Task Force, the industry is set to drive the development of 400GbE.  And the Ethernet Alliance is there!  The participants of its 400GbE Sub-Committee believe in the market relevance of 400GbE.  And that market relevance will drive the development of the latest IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard that will be added into the IEEE 802 family.