The year 2015 was a busy one for Ethernet, one of the world’s most ubiquitous networking technologies. With a growing range of speeds stretching from 2.5Gb/s to 400Gb/s, Ethernet’s ongoing expansion helped push it into a diverse array of new applications and markets.
As the leading industry voice for Ethernet, the Ethernet Alliance is on the front lines of the technology innovations that will carry Ethernet through 2016 and beyond. Here, three of the Ethernet Alliance’s key industry and technology experts offer their views on what the New Year might hold:
Scott Kipp, President, Ethernet Alliance; Director of Engineering, Brocade
2016 will be another exciting year for Ethernet, particularly when it comes to 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE). This year will mark the critical inflection point for 100GbE reaching the mass deployment threshold as volumes hit one million ports per annum and costs decrease. Smaller QSFP28 ports, a key driver, will lead to higher port count switches, while simultaneously reducing overall per-port costs.
As this becomes a reality, we’ll see a self-renewing trend of increased volumes accompanied by decreasing costs. In turn, this will pave the way for more than one million switch ports shipped throughout this year, and facilitate 100GbE’s introduction to an array of new applications.
Technical Committee Chair,
George Zimmerman, Ethernet Alliance Technical Committee Chair; Principal, CME Consulting
Ethernet will increase its expansion in the data center, enterprise, and now, the automotive markets with the completion of a flurry of new standards in 2016:
Data centers, ever-hungry for an incremental speed improvement, will begin to move from 10Gbps to an incremental 25 Gbps rate with 2 new standards, IEEE P802.3by, 25Gb/s Ethernet on twinax copper and multimode fiber; and IEEE P802.3bq, 25G/40GBASE-T Ethernet on twisted pair cabling.
Meanwhile, enterprise access will finally begin to move beyond 1Gbps, using the bulk of the installed cabling (i.e., Category 5e and Category 6). With the emergence of IEEE P802.3bz 2.5G/5GBASE-T Ethernet, wave 2 802.11ac access points and other bandwidth-intensive endpoints will see power and data rates climb past 1Gbps. The standard is expected to align with pre-standard silicon entering the market.
Ethernet on the move also gets faster. Cameras and other high-rate sensors will drive Ethernet for automotive environments to gigabit speeds, enabled by the publication of IEEE P802.3bp 1000BASE-T1 Ethernet, and available silicon.
Finally, the pipeline will be full of other Ethernet standards, including single-pair powering, four-pair powering, additional PHYs for storage applications, and higher speeds from 50Gbps to 400Gbps.
With its unrelenting march toward higher speeds, as well as its optimization for new markets and application spaces, it’s safe to say 2016 will be an exciting, dynamic year for Ethernet.
David Chalupsky, Ethernet Alliance; Chair IEEE P802.3bz 2.5G/5GBASE-T Task Force; Architect, Intel
In 2016 2.5G/5GBASE-T capable devices, such as NICs and Wi-Fi access points will enter the market, joining the switches that began shipping in 2015. This will enable end-point devices, both wired and wireless alike, to realize greater network bandwidth from the more than 70 billion meters of Cat5e and Cat6 cabling that has shipped since 2004.