Thursday, July 12, 2007

Standardization of 40 Gig vs 100 Gig Ethernet

Next week at the IEEE 802.3 plenary in SanFrancisco, the High Speed Study Group (HSSG) will meet to gather consensus on a 100 Gbps Ethernet standardization activity. There has been considerable support within the HSSG committee for an interim 40 Gig Ethernet standard, or a standard which is interoperable between 40 Gig and 100 Gig. There have been several news reports covering this battle since the last plenary meet in Geneva in May 2007, unfortinately I have not found time to research this and write about it in the past month in this blog. Here are some interesting articles that I found on a Google search:

Controversy threatens 100G standards work

Group pushes 100 Gigabit Ethernet

To those unfamiliar with the process of standardization, the Study Group has to develop sufficient consensus to have a Project Authorization Request (PAR) and resposes to 5 Criteria which cover (i) Broad Market Potential (ii) Compatibility with existing standards (iii) Distinct Identity (iv) Technical Feasibility and (v) Economic Feasibility. I believe the 5 Criteria of the HSSG has already been decided. Once the Study Group develops consensus, the IEEE forms a standardization committee which develops the standard (also known as the task force). If the HSSG is unable to gather a consensus, then the IEEE may scrap the creation of the standard or create a new Study group with new deadlines. The HSSG has already taken 2 extensions to submitting the PAR.

While I will keep you posted about developments in next week's plenary, please do post your comments on this issue. I am of the opinion that wif a technology is sufficiently mature, it ought to be standardized irrespective of what volumes and market it may drive. Also the standard must taken into account driving a low price point for the technology so that volumes grow up. As an example, although the 10 Gig Ethernet standard is about a couple of years old, 10 Gig NIC volumes are still verry low. One of the reasons I see here is that the standard mandates support for a distance over 300 mts which drives the cost of the PHY devices very high, and thus prevents lowering the entry price point of this technology. Hope the same doesn't happen to the HSSG standard.

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