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New Ethernet standard: not 40Gbps, not 100, but both

Considering that 1Gbps networks are becoming standard, the Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG) has approved a Project Authorisation Request for a new standard, dubbed IEEE 802.3ba, which will propel Ethernet to speeds up to 100Gbps.

However, the two main competing groups for the speed increase couldn't reach an amicable conclusion as to what the new standard should be, so in a surprise turn of events, the HSSG has decided to standardise both 40Gbps and 100Gbps speeds as part of the IEEE 802.3ba specification.

There were two different groups that wanted two different standards: members who were interested in faster server-to-switch applications wanted 40Gbps, whereas other members who were more interested in developing a more robust network backbone favored the higher 100Gbps speed. The higher speed would require more expensive and power-hungry equipment...

In the end, unable to come up with a consensus, the HSSG decided to standardize both the 40Gbps and 100Gbps speeds as part of the IEEE 802.3ba spec, with connection equipment for speed having different physical specifications. 40Gbps links can be up to one meter long for switch backplanes, 10 meters for copper cable and 100 meters for fiber optics. The 100Gbps spec will add specifications for 10- and 40-kilometer links over single-mode fiber.

This is the first time that an Ethernet standards group has approved two different speeds for a single standard. If the IEEE approves the spec, the standard may be fully completed by 2010, with devices and equipment that supports it expected to follow shortly thereafter. Bring on Internet2 ...

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