Ethernet ecosystem driven by applications, not speed alone

By Ethernet Alliance

In an article recently published in Network World Dave Chalupsky, a member of the Ethernet Alliance board of directors, describes how Ethernet applications now drive new Ethernet incarnations.

Chalupsky articulates Ethernet’s development from its humble beginnings over 30 years ago as a means to connect computers to printers at 10 Mb/s to the “need for speed” as networks and data centers sought higher throughput. As Ethernet has served many unanticipated applications, a diverse Ethernet ecosystem has evolved.

“In this new paradigm,” as Chalupsky writes, “the Ethernet roadmap combines new and existing data rates with other attributes to meet various applications’ requirements.”

New application requirements may include distance, environment, ease-of-use and flexibility, physical infrastructure reuse and even the size and weight of cabling.

Two new Ethernet specifications illustrate Chalupsky’s points.

The relatively recent requirement for in-vehicle networking with its demand for lightweight cabling and robustness in harsh environmental conditions has driven new two new standards. IEEE 802.3bw™-2015 100BASE-T1 and IEEE 802.3bp™-2016 1000BASE-T1 standards provide 100 Mb/s and 1000 Mb/s Ethernet, respectively, over a single twisted pair copper cable in the “connected car.”

As Chalupsky points out, new application requirements and the “need for speed” may drive automotive Ethernet specifications and standards to go both slower and faster. Cost- and power-sensitive devices that don’t move much data may benefit from a single-pair 10 Mb/s specification, while autonomous, self-driving vehicles may propel networking bandwidth needs well past 1 Gb/s.

In his article, Chalupsky discusses emerging Power over Ethernet (PoE) requirements for higher bandwidth applications as well as how the ongoing needs of enterprise campus applications have also driven a choice of speed, combined with other attributes. The emerging network needs of the Internet of Things (IoT) will drive new applications as well.

For more discussion on these topics check out the article and let us know what you think.