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Ethernet's 400-Gigabit Challenge Is a Good Problem To Have 75

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the something-about-too-many-cooks dept.
alphadogg writes "As it embarks on what's likely to be a long journey to its next big increase in speed, Ethernet is in some ways a victim of its own success. Years ago, birthing a new generation of Ethernet was relatively straightforward: Enterprises wanted faster LANs, vendors figured out ways to achieve that throughput and hashed out a standard, and IT shops bought the speed boost with their next computers and switches. Now it's more complicated, with carriers, Web 2.0 giants, cloud providers, and enterprises all looking for different speeds and interfaces, some more urgently than others. ... That's what the IEEE 802.3 400Gbps Study Group faces as it tries to write the next chapter in Ethernet's history. ... 'You have a lot of different people coming in to the study group,' said John D'Ambrosia, the group's chair, in an interview at the Ethernet Alliance's Technology Exploration Forum in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday. That can make it harder to reach consensus, with 75 percent approval required to ratify a standard, he said."
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Ethernet's 400-Gigabit Challenge Is a Good Problem To Have

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  • Needs more context (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So whats the problem? Fitting more bandwidth onto a CAT5 cable? I feel like the summary needs more context.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178)

      As I understand it, the problem is more like how to fit 400 1Gbps cables into a single wrapper.
      That, and too many conflicting commercial interests.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @10:45AM (#45143061)

      The problem is that different users have different requirements: Some will want low power requirements but don't need much range. Some will want more range but don't care much about power consumption and cost of advanced signal processing. Up to 1Gbps, Ethernet was a one-size-fits-all standard, mostly because everyone needed roughly the same: cheap, fast and uses existing cabling as much as possible (implying roughly the same range). Technological advances didn't require the kinds of tradeoff that are necessary now. From 10Gbps onward, Ethernet users have become more diverse and the technical challenges have forced more tradeoffs.

      • by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:10AM (#45143335)

        At the 10gigE point, things diverge. There is single mode ("don't look at laser with remaining eye") media which is great for long distances, but more expensive, multi-mode which is good enough for inside the server room, and good ol' copper. However, this is what SFP modules are for.

        It would be nice if fiber optic made it to the home, other than S/PDIF connections, and preferably with a more idiot-resistant connector than what existing fiber uses, especially with fouling lightpipes due to dust and such. Copper is useful, but eventually for faster connections, we will have to jump ship completely to fiber.

        Of course, once we get 400Gbps, there will be the issues of how it filters down and all the switching/routing fabric needed. Most companies were dragged kicking and screaming to 1Gbps, and might use 10gigE for their trunk, or perhaps their SAN fabric. Trying to get them to 400Gbps for anything other than maybe storage will take a very long time.

        • What most homes have isn't copper. It's copperish, with traces of iron, tin, water, corrosion, bird droppings and dead rat. Those lines were not made for data. It's a wonder engineers have managed to cram bits down them as fast as they have with DSL.

          • by mjwalshe (1680392)
            And in some unlucky places Au and Not Cu was used for the last mile due to a spike in copper prices.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by TheLink (130905)
              Which unlucky places are those? Insert suitable carrier lost jokes...

              Do you mean Al and not Au (Gold)?
              • Aluminium isn't a terrible cable - it's got about 60% the conductivity of copper. The problem is joining it. That oxide layer means that any type of twist or post connection is going to make terrible contact. You have to solder it, and it doesn't take solder at all well.

                • by mjwalshe (1680392)
                  But its sucks for ADSL deployment
                  • That's because it isn't soldered. It wasn't installed for ADSL, an twist-connections are good enough for voice, so why spend time doing better? No-one at the time ancitipated it would be use for broadband signals.

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  Aluminium isn't a terrible cable - it's got about 60% the conductivity of copper. The problem is joining it. That oxide layer means that any type of twist or post connection is going to make terrible contact. You have to solder it, and it doesn't take solder at all well.

                  The solution in house wiring is to terminate your Al with a small length of Cu. They used aluminum in mobile homes for a while to save weight. I've seen it cause an outlet fire. The solution is to get some copper ends which get attached to the aluminum wiring and then sealed on. I've never actually seen the fix done, I think they're crimped on and then either protected with a compound or with an epoxy or glue. I wonder if the same couldn't be done for existing data wiring.

        • by skids (119237)

          It would be nice if fiber optic made it to the home, other than S/PDIF connections, and preferably with a more idiot-resistant connector than what existing fiber uses, especially with fouling lightpipes due to dust and such. Copper is useful, but eventually for faster connections, we will have to jump ship completely to fiber.

          I doubt fiber will ever make it in the home market aside from storage attachment. The only way to persuade a typical commodity user to plug anything in these days is if they can charge their battery of it. Will likely see penetration of PoE,PoE+,etc and 10GBase-T, but not much beyond that.

          • by Kjella (173770)

            I doubt fiber will ever make it in the home market aside from storage attachment. The only way to persuade a typical commodity user to plug anything in these days is if they can charge their battery of it. Will likely see penetration of PoE,PoE+,etc and 10GBase-T, but not much beyond that.

            I doubt anything has a future in the home, to the home it'll be fiber (23% here in Norway now and rapidly rising) that plugs into a box in the closet that splits it off into TV, phone, wireless and copper wire internet service and so on. GigE over copper is plenty for in-home distribution, even for compressed 4K material unless you've got a big family all watching different things with quad-BluRay quality. Anywhere you're likely to want an Ethernet port you have wall sockets, so no point in powered varietie

            • by skids (119237)

              Anywhere you're likely to want an Ethernet port you have wall sockets, so no point in powered varieties.

              I think here you may be underestimating the level to which the home consumer will finick over convenience. Having one universal power adaptor (an RJ-45 cable) lying around that any gadget can charge off with the added benefit of more reliable low-latency performance beats buying a bunch of wall warts for each device or carrying said wall wart around with you. I could see inductive pads competing, but not wall outlets.

  • 400 GB per small* unit of time on the other hand ...

    * "small unit of time" being 1 second or less

  • Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @10:34AM (#45142947)

    The problem isn't that you have a bunch of squabbling engineers who can't even figure out how to split a lunch check. It's that you have a bunch of executives and attorneys that want to get as much of their company's IP piled into the standard as possible.

  • Before you let anyone into your standards committee, make sure they don't work for Microsoft or a Microsoft affiliate. And if they do, make sure Microsoft isn't trying to push through a competing "standard".

    Be sure you learn the ISO's lessons regarding Microsoft and its henchmen stuffing standards bodies.

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