Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cisco providing 10 GigE and POE in Catalyst

Cisco today announced that it will be providing 10 Gig Ethernet and Power over Ethernet support in its Catalyst switches which are deployed in enterprise/ metro area networks. One of the prime goals is to support high definition video in enterprises. Also targeted is IP-telephony, so that telephones can draw all the required power supply from the network.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Energy Efficient Ethernet

This just came to my attention, the IEEE 802.3 has formed a study group to investigate on Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE). This study group met for the first time at the IEEE meets at Monterey. This effort is being led mainly by scientists from the Lawrence Brekeley National Laboratory, and includes participation from Cisco and Broadcom.

The outstanding issues document available here is an interesting read. It mentions that EEE will save 250 to 380 million $s a year from 1 Gig Ethernet and 40 to 80 million $s a year from 10 Gig Etehrnet. The main idea here is that Ethernet cards should be able to switch to lower data rates when link utilization is low. As an example, 1 Gig cards should be able to switch quickly between rates of 10 Mbps, 100 Mpbs, and 1 Gbps depending on link utilization. An interesting question is whether upper layers need to be made aware of the switching of rates?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cable reports bandwidth crunch, considering PON!!!

This is an interesting article at Lightreading reporting cable companies facing a bandwidth crunch. This is not unexpected, since residential broadband bandwidth consumption is increasing rapidly, particularly downloaded video traffic, such as from YouTube. Moreover, the data channels available in DOCSIS 2.0 are limited, DOCSIS 3.0 will still take some time to deploy.

What I found more interesting is the mention of PON under consideration by cable companies. Cable deployments already have fiber to a head end from where a copper ring takes over. Unfortunately the copper ring is shared by a lot of customers, may be even 1000. This is because cable was designed for broadcast, and a lot of customers could feed from the pipe with little attenuation to the signal. However, this architecture is not convenient for data traffic which is not shared between customers. Similarly, upstream traffic performance is pretty poor as the number of upstream channels in DOCSIS 2.0 are very less.

PON will definitely help a long way. I am not sure why PONS have been completely dismissed by cable companies till now. With the competition from satellite television which delivers a much wider range of HDTV channels, and the phone companies BPON architecture, rapid developments in cable may be expected soon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Teknovus announces partnership with Fiberxon

Teknovus yesterday announced that it would use Fiberxon's dual-speed transceiver's in its Turbo EPON (2.5 Gbps) products. The Turb EPON can support the legacy bit rate of 1.25 Gbps as well as the turbo mode of 2.5 Gbps. This is Teknovus's solution to match the speed of the GPON while the 10 Gig EPON standardization is going on. The press release is available here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Interview with 100 GigE study group chair

An interview with John D’Ambrosia, the chair of the IEEE 100 GigE study group is here. John articulates the emerging need for 100 GigE and his thoughts on the goals of the standardization activity.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

IEEE Meet at Monterey, CA

The IEEE 802.3 interim meeting was at Monterey, CA this last week. It is difficult to summarize activities owing to too much technical detail. The meeting details for each subgroup are available at the IEEE website.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sun coming up with its own 10 Gig Ethernet chip

Well this news is a surprise to me. Sun is coming up with its own 10 Gig Ethernet chip, which is called Neptune. Apparently, this is the first time that Sun is coming up with its own ASIC interface card. Neptune will be optimized for multithreaded applications and will be designed to work well with multicore chipsets.

Sun has already been working with Neterion and using Neterion's adapters in its Sun Fire servers, but I guess the performance has not been upto Sun's standards, which is making Sun come up with its own chipsets. According to this news report Sun believes it can achieve 4 times better performance with its own ASIC for the Niagara chipset. This report also mentions Neptune will intelligently allocate threads to the correct cores on the eight core, 32-threaded Niagara processor and will also head-of-line blocking problems. Neptune will support dual and quad-port Ethernet connections running at 10 or 1Gbit/second in a single PCI Express card.

Sun is also coming up with its next generation processor to Niagara called "Rock" which will be released sometime in 2008. With the standardization efforts of 100 Gig Ethernet, I believe Sun wants to enter the adapter market, which is very important for it to deliver high-performance servers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Nortel's PBT

Well Nortel's PBT kept making major news today as well, with the deal with BT sending Nortel's stock up 3.5% today. And Philippe Morin, president of Nortel's Metro Ethernet Networks division mentioned that he expected Nortel to have a major first to market advantage with PBT, and to make a major dent in the carrier ethernet market in the next year. Currently Nortel has only 4% market share in Carrier Ethernet, with Cisco leading at 57%. It will be pretty interesting to see how PBT moves along.

Monday, January 15, 2007

BT signs up Nortel and Siemens for PBT

In a widely expected move, British Telecom signed deals with Nortel and Siemens for Provider Backbone Transport (PBT) based metro ethernet switches. PBT is a very new and unstandardized option over MPLS for carrier ethernet.

BT is the first to support this technology and it is expected that companies like Verizon will show interest soon. This deal may be a big turnaround for Nortel as it was one of the pioneers for PBT and competing companies like Cisco and Juniper are yet to enter the fray.

PBT is a technology to provide an end-to-end virtual connection over a network, so that Quality of Service (QoS) features and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) may be made available. A great insight into this technology is available here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Teknovus vs PMC-Sierra

Lightreading has an interesting article about the competition between Teknovus and PMC-Sierra to capture segments of the Asian broadband access market. It mentions Teknovus' CEO Rex Naden mentioning that Teknovus still is hopeful of getting a big contract in Korea as KT moves towards increased deployments and possibly migrate to higher bit-rates (Teknovus supports non standardized EPON solution at 2.5 Gbps).

Competition seems intense between these two leading EPON vendors, because volume deployments of EPON have still not caught up except for in 2 countries, Korea and Japan, which have a combined population of 175 million. On the other hand , EPON is now a very mature industry, and price per port is spiraling down. Since the customers are vendors who sell to a consumer market which is not willing to afford more than $100 per box (and mostly this cost is absorbed by service provider), the margin per port is very low. It is a difficult business unless deployment picks up to tens of million ports per year.

In this light, I believe that its best for PMC-Sierra and Teknovus to join hands and target GPON competition. May be its too late, since North America is heavily inclined towards GPON at this point of time. But there are the big consumer markets - India and China. And Europe is an emerging market too, though many cities such as Paris and Amsterdam have preferred active ethernet.

But often, when two leading competitors collaborate, they increase the market size, which is mutually beneficial. Take the case of Google and AskJeeves in early 2000-2001. Collaboration helped them expand search, and see the size of the search market now.

So my suggestion to both companies is: collaborate against competing technologies. Broadband access market is huge. With positive developments both companies may have billion dollar revenues by the turn of the decade.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Force10 patenting high speed backplanes

Just read a news article about Force 10's focus on patenting high-speed backplane technology. For example, US Patent 7124502 titled "Method of patenting a high-layer-count backplane" has been recently patented by Force 10. I have to read teh patent to find out the speed this can support. Force 10 already has its Terascale E-Series routers which can support a backplane bandwidth of 5 Tbps, and is currently used for 10 Gig Ethernet switches.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Chelsio scores big win

Chelsio's 10 Gig Ethernet adapters will be distributed to Bell Micro. Bell Micro is an important distributor of storage products. This relationship should help increase Chelsio's penetration in the storage market.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The future of networking is in access

I read this article about a Cisco Engineer commuting 186 miles one way from Mariposa to San Jose to work, 5 days a week. This guy won the prize for America's longest work commute and earned a prize money of $10,000 besides other things. I am amazed that there is a competition of this kind. And more amazed that the winner is an employee of a company whose mission states that the "Internet will change the way we work, live, play, and learn".

The key to achieve this is high-speed broadband access, and I would like Cisco and competing companies to invest more money in this. Yes, the Internet is great, it has revolutionized and shrunk the world, communications have become so cheap, but the ultimate test is delivering unprecedented and cheap bandwidth to all users. So that we may communicate in better and more media-rich ways, and distances can be further bridged, and this Cisco Engineer can work from his ranch in Mariposa. Think of how much energy we all could save if we could reduce the work commute, and allow everyone to work from the comfortable environs of home.

So my hope for 2007 is that high-speed broadband access technologies like EPON can start off in the United States. Korea and Japan have leapfrogged ahead in this technology, countries in Europe have also taken the same up.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Korea Telecom hooking up 800000 EPON connections

Happy new year to all readers.

The big news reported on Lightreading today is about Korea Telecom (KT) going ahead with the deployment of 800,000 EPON connections. This is the first large-scale deployment of EPON in Korea. Although KT has been investigating PON including WDM-PON for quite some time now, the target of close to a million subscribers in 2007 is big news.

The main equipment builder is expected to be Dasan which will be using PMC-Sierra (Passave) chipsets.