IEEE ratifies 40-, 100- Gigabit Ethernet standard

June 21, 2010
IEEE 802.3ba specifies a single architecture capable of supporting both 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40GbE) and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE), along with physical layer specifications.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- The Ethernet Alliance announced its congratulations to the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) and the IEEE P802.3ba Task Force on the ratification of the IEEE Std. 802.3ba - 2010 standard. As an amendment to IEEE 802.3 base standard, IEEE Std. 802.3ba specifies the technology and requirements for the development of higher speed Ethernet components and systems that operate at 40 and 100 gigabits per second.

The new standard describes a single architecture capable of supporting both 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40GbE) and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE), along with physical layer specifications for communication across backplanes, copper cabling, multimode fiber and singlemode fiber.

The Ethernet Alliance said it was proud to play a role in the development of the standard by facilitating the initial work for the call-for-interest to providing a venue to form consensus on the requirements. According to a press release, the standards effort began in July 2006 with the call-for-interest and the formation of the IEEE 802.3 Higher Speed Study Group.

During the study group phase of the project, it became clear that the bandwidth demand in switches and aggregation points was outpacing the demand in servers and end stations; therefore, the group took on the creation of two speeds, 40GbE and 100GbE, utilizing building blocks developed by 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The study group transitioned to become the IEEE P802.3ba task force in December 2007 with the goal to create a draft standard. On June 17, the effort culminated with the ratification of the draft standard by the IEEE-SA Standards Board.

“Every jump in Ethernet speed has helped to meet the ever-growing bandwidth demands being placed upon the networking industry, and the ratification of the 40GbE and 100GbE standard is no different,” stated John D’Ambrosia, chair, IEEE P802.3ba 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s Ethernet Task Force, and director, Ethernet-based Standards of the CTO Office for Force10 Networks. “From the incubation of the initial effort, to getting a study group launched, to its role in helping the industry reach consensus during key critical moments of the project, the Ethernet Alliance was there. I would like to thank the Ethernet Alliance and its membership for their significant contributions to this historic moment.”

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“With enterprises beginning to deploy 10 GE uplinks on client side switches in the wiring closet, as well as 10 GE direct server connections, the aggregation of these links is becoming a bottleneck in the network until higher speeds are widely available,” said Alan Weckel, director, Ethernet Switch & Enterprise Telephony Market Research at Dell‘Oro Group. “For example, at present enterprises must deploy complicated fat tree or spanning tree architectures to aggregate 10 GE using the same speed as both the aggregator and the aggregated. We believe that 40 GE and 100 GE will be critical to meeting the increasing demands for bandwidth in the data center.”

With the completion of the 40GbE and 100GbE standard, the Ethernet Alliance Higher Speed Ethernet (HSE) subcommittee will work with its members to move the technology from concept to deployment. Several vendors have announced and released products to support 40GbE and 100GbE, including components, switches, test equipment, etc. The HSE subcommittee supports educational activities such as white papers, technology seminars and public demonstrations while helping its members test compliance and interoperability through a series of closed-door test events called plugfests.

“The Ethernet Alliance HSE subcommittee continues to be instrumental in the development and support of 40GbE and 100GbE technologies,” stated Mark Nowell, HSE subcommittee technical chair and senior director, engineering at Cisco Systems. “The Ethernet Alliance is tackling the challenge of assisting its members in the development and deployment of compliant and interoperable equipment while also supporting the next standards efforts to enhance the 40GbE and 100GbE family.”

The Ethernet Alliance is planning a demonstration of 40GbE and 100GbE at the SC’10 (Supercomputing 2010) show in New Orleans from November 15-18, 2010.

For more information on 40GbE and 100GbE and Ethernet Alliance related activities, visit

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