IEEE forms group to define standards beyond 400G

Dec. 4, 2020
The path to beyond 400-Gb/s Ethernet exists, but there are a host of options and physical challenges that will need to be considered, says John D’Ambrosia.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the IEEE Standards Association recently announced the formation of the IEEE 802.3 Beyond 400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group. The group “will explore initiating a new IEEE project that would standardize capabilities exceeding today’s maximum data rate of 400 Gigabit per second for IEEE 802.3, IEEE Standard for Ethernet,” the organization said. The group’s first meeting is scheduled to take place the week of January 18, 2021 during the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group’s interim session.

In April 2020 the IEEE released the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment (BWA) Report. The report “showed that trends around traffic drivers such as video, hyperscale data centers, 5G and deployment of IEEE 802.11 WiFi all point toward an ongoing bandwidth explosion for Ethernet networks around the world in the years ahead,” the IEEE noted. “Undeniably, simultaneous trends point toward more users, faster access speeds, more services, more devices coming online, greater difference between average and peak bandwidth demands on networks. Furthermore, the year-long study of global usage and trends that informed the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment report was completed before the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has only magnified the need for connectivity and bandwidth to people everywhere.”

“The path to beyond 400-Gb/s Ethernet exists, but there are a host of options and physical challenges that will need to be considered to take the next leap in speed rate for Ethernet,” commented John D’Ambrosia, distinguished engineer, Futurewei Technologies. D’Ambrosia led the call for interest in forming the study group. “Both the historical trend lines for Ethernet bandwidth demand and everything the industry understands today about its future needs and technology growth curves indicate that the time to take the next step is now, in order to satisfy humanity’s needs and desires for connectivity. It will be the responsibility of the study group to examine the problem and develop the project authorization documentation necessary to launch a new standard-development project.”

Google principle engineer Cedric Lam participated heavily in the consensus-building effort that led to the launch of the IEEE 802.3 Beyond 400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group, the IEEE said. “Bandwidth demand is ever-increasing, and the industry must always be building new capacity to accommodate modern demands for connectivity and the advancement of new and innovative services,” Lam commented.

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