NEXT STOP FOR ETHERNET: 100 GIGABIT

The IEEE Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG) has voted to pursue the goal of creating a standard of 100 gigabits per second for Ethernet transmission. According to a report yesterday in NetworkWorld, the HSSG will attempt to standardize 100-Gbps Ethernet over distances as far as 6 miles of fiber-optic cable.

The current agreement will result in the formation of a 100G Ethernet Task Force to hammer out a standard that is technically feasible and economically viable, said John D'Ambrosia, chair of the HSSG, and scientist of components technology at Force10 Networks. "There is still a lot of work to be done to finalize our objectives, and where this thing will go," D'Ambrosia said. "The next step is getting the project into the [IEEE networking] process."

Details of the initiative can be found in the minutes of the HSSG's 14-16 November meeting, in Dallas, Tex. In his opening remarks, D'Ambrosia speculated that a 100-Gbps Ethernet working group could be formed by July 2007 and that a completed standard might appear by 2009 or 2010.

The fastest existing standard is 10-Gbps Ethernet. But as devices consume more and more bandwidth going forward, standards for higher-speed network connectivity are considered mandatory. Intensive bandwidth-hungry sites such as YouTube have already pushed the existing IEEE standard to its limits.

A commentator to the Slashdot aggregation site notes in reporting on the development: "The current thinking is that achieving these speeds will be reached by advancing bonding techniques for 10G signals over multiple fibers."

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