Report: 10GBase-T market set to explode

Market is finally taking off with shipments of SFP+ optical transceivers driving early growth -- but 10GBase-T is nearly ready to challenge for ports.

The 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) market is finally taking off with shipments of SFP+ optical transceivers driving early growth – but 10GBase-T is nearly ready to challenge for ports, says market research firm LightCounting LLC in its latest report, 10GBASE-T to Dominate 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Eventually.

Highlight of LightCounting’s report include:

Optical 10GbE port shipments have finally started to take off: Going forward, SFP+ will be the dominant optical interface. 10GbE SFP+ port shipments with a reach of less than 300 m are used in server-to-switch and some switch-to-switch applications. Shipments have tripled over the past three quarters, and LightCounting expects the high-growth trend to continue.

10GBase-KR LAN on Motherboard (LOM) for blade servers has been shipping since 2009: In March 2009, HP announced the first 10GbE LOM in its blade servers under the BladeSystem brand when it refreshed its blade servers with Intel’s Nehalem family of processors in March 2009. Once blade servers offered LOM implementations of 10GbE, 10GbE port volumes grew dramatically. The significance of LOM is huge, LightCounting asserts. Prior to this generation of blade servers, 10GbE could only be enabled via adapter cards.

10GBase-T for adapters becomes feasible in late 2011: Because the use of 10GBase-T PHYs on dual port server adapters (the predominant version of shipping optical 10GbE adapters) has not been feasible to date and optical interconnects are much more expensive than copper to end users, the market for 10GbE has been stunted, LightCounting says. However, the newest versions of 10GBase-T PHYs, developed using the 40nm semiconductor process, have finally overcome 10GBase-T power constraints, enabling dual-port 10GbE adapter sales to begin in earnest once adapters using these parts are sold to end users next year.

The opportunity for 10GbE LOMs based on 10GBASE-T in 2011 is rapidly closing: 10GBase-T chipmakers will miss having their products built into Intel’s upcoming Romley server platform, which is due out late in 2011. The design win window is rapidly closing for these server platforms, and LOM versions of 10GbE controllers with embedded dual 10GBase-T PHYs are not available from multiple chipmakers. Hence, LightCounting’s forecast for 10GbE based on 10GBase-T remains constrained for the next few years.

"The design win opportunity for 10GBase-T on the motherboard is rapidly closing for the next generation of Intel-based servers," says Kimball Brown, LightCounting’s vice president and senior datacom analyst. “We do not foresee the opportunity for ubiquitous adoption of 10GBase-T LOM for a few more years -- in the meantime, look for thriving markets for 10GbE adapters based on 10GBase-T PHYs or SPF+ technology using optical transceivers and direct attach cables.”

For more information, visit LightCounting.

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