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100-GigE Takes Shape

SAN JOSE, Calif. Even though it's going to be three years before a 100-Gbit/s Ethernet standard can be ratified, some researchers and CTOs are already looking at how such a speed could be made possible, with equipment that would be practical enough to actually get sold.

They convened earlier this week, spending a day at the historic Dolce Hayes Mansion -- now a conference center -- buried in the suburbs southeast of downtown San Jose. There, an engineering-minded audience packed a small meeting room to the gills for an Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA) seminar entitled, "100 Gbit/s Ethernet: The Next Challenge for Communications Systems."

The topic is getting a lot of publicity lately, particularly with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) approving a Higher Speed Study Group to standardize the next speed grade. (See 100-Gig Ethernet Takes First Step.)

That standard, which is expected to take three years to complete, doesn't have to be 100 Gbit/s. The HSSG, which won't meet formally until later this month, will have to entertain comments on several speed-grade proposals, including 40, 80, 120, and 160 Gbit/s. Most bets, though, seem to be on 100 Gbit/s.

The loudest cries for a higher-speed Ethernet come from places like carrier hotels, some of which are already reporting a need for 100-Gbit/s links among large ISP tenants. Link aggregation -- a method of treating multiple 10-Gbit/s links as one -- isn't expected to be efficient enough to handle traffic growth. (See Ready for 100-Gig Ethernet? .)

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