Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fork in the road for Ethernet?

The more I dig into the outlook for the IEEE High Speed Study Group the cloudier it looks.

So far I have heard from a representative of computer companies that are making a big push for 100 and 40 Gbit/second standards as part of one IEEE effort going forward. The 100 G standard is something everyone wants, but computer companies are also hot for 40G for three data center applications. They want 1 meter 40 G backplanes, 10 meter short reach lengths for racks of servers and switches and 100 meter lengths to span a data center.

A networking person part of the effort is begrudgingly willing to support a separate proposal for both 40 and 100 Gbit/second standards, but is concerned the 40G work will lead to competing 40 and 100 G networking products that confuse and fragment the market. He also wants to see separate IEEE work groups hammer out the 40 and 100 G specs, a procedural difference.

As usual in a big IEEE group, there seems to be a certain amount of politics, clashing agendas and paranoia. But it's the telecom people I most want to hear from now because I understand they and the networking companies are at odds. So if you are with AlcaLu, Nortel, Ericcson, Nokia or Comcast, leave a posting here or drop me a line at rbmerrit@cmp.com

The HSSG chairman is upbeat about a breakthrough at the July meeting, but so far I am not hearing anything about a consensus. Ethernet has become the main highway for all communications so there is a lot riding on this work, including that little application called the Internet.

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