Spec lets users dial in desired data rates
Rick Merritt, EETimes
10/3/2016 11:01 AM EDT
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A new generation of Ethernet silicon is in the works that could help further spread use — especially in optical backbone networks — of the already widely adopted networking technology. Flexible Ethernet enables chips that can dial in different data rates as needed.
A preliminary spec for Flexible Ethernet at 100 Gbits/second rates was formally set by the Optical Internetworking Forum earlier this year. The OIF will fill in that spec with more details and support for 25G, 200G and 400G rates in a 2.0 effort expected to start in November.
Multiple vendors demonstrated FPGA-based implementations of the technology at optical networking events earlier this year. Support in next-generation ASICs and DSPs is said to be in the works with first products rolling next year and broad availability expected in 2018.
The technology solves several problems.
Users across the complex networking landscape are finding needs for specific data rates not currently supported in standards that can take years to define. More specifically, big data center operators need flexibility to ensure they can fill up long-distance optical links, the most expensive part of their networks and the part that takes the longest to upgrade.
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