Industry consortium introduces 25G, 50G Ethernet standards
25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium has developed fiber- and twinax-based spec for connections in ‘mega-scale data centers.’
A consortium of companies in the cloud-computing arena has developed and made available royalty-free (to consortium members) a specification that is “optimized to allow data center networks to run over a 25- or 50-Gigabit-per-second Ethernet link protocol,” the group stated. “This new specification will enable the cost-efficient scaling of network bandwidth delivered to server and storage endpoints in next-generation cloud infrastructure, where workloads are expected to surpass the capacity of 10- or 40-Gbit/sec Ethernet links deployed today.” The consortium includes Arista Networks, Broadcom Corporation, Google, Mellanox Technologies, and Microsoft Corp.
In a release announcing the standard specification’s availability, the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium explained it was formed by the aforementioned companies “for the purpose of supporting an industry-standard, interoperable Ethernet specification that boosts the performance and slashes the interconnect costs per Gbit/sec between the server network interface controller (NIC) and top-of-rack (ToR) switch.” It further stated, “The specification prescribes a single-lane 25-Gbit/sec Ethernet and dual-lane 50-Gbit/sec Ethernet link protocol, enabling up to 2.5x higher performance per physical lane or twinax copper wire between the rack endpoint and switch compared to current 10- and 40-Gbit/sec Ethernet links. The new specification is being made available royalty-free by the Consortium members to any data center ecosystem vendor or consumer who joins the consortium.”
Anshul Sadana, senior vice president of custom engineering with Arista Networks, said, “The companies joining the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium are taking a major step forward in increasing the performance of data center networks. With ever-increasing server performance and with the uplinks from the leaf to spine layer migration to 100 Gbits/sec in the near future, it makes sense to increase the access speed from 10 Gbits/sec to 25 and 50 Gbits/sec.”
The consortium added, “By deploying 25- and 50-Gbit/sec Ethernet in their networks, builders of mega-scale data centers such as Microsoft expect to achieve operational advantages, including reduced capex and opex.” Yousef Khalidi, distinguished engineer with Microsoft, commented, “The new Ethernet speeds proposed by the Consortium give superior flexibility in matching future workloads with network equipment and cabling, with the option to ‘scale-as-you-go.’ In essence, the specification published by the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium maximizes the radix and bandwidth flexibility of the data center network while leveraging many of the same fundamental technologies and behaviors already identified by the IEEE 802.3 standard.”