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July 24, 2014

Why the 25Gbps Ethernet standard is moving quickly

IEEE starts 25Gbps Ethernet study group.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Members from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have formed a study group to develop 25Gbps Ethernet standards for servers and switching.

The 802.3 25 Gbps Ethernet study group voted last week to explore uses and market interests in 25Gbps Ethernet for single-lane interconnections between servers and top-of-rack networking gear inside data centres.

"The new study group expects to lay the groundwork for a new Media Access Control (MAC) rate that will enable cost-optimised single-lane solutions that will increase network deployment efficiency," said Mark Nowell, chair of the IEEE 802.3 25Gb/s Ethernet Study Group and senior director of Cisco Systems.

He added: "The heavy lifting in developing and standardising 25Gb/s signalling technologies has been done as part of the development of 100Gb/s Ethernet. These technologies can be reused to enable a single-lane 25Gb/s Ethernet solution set for server interconnects for these future data centres."

The announcement comes after Dell’Oro Group predicted that by 2018 the 25Gbps speeds will be the second most popular port speeds after 10Gb/sec by 2018.

The single-lane 25Gbps and dual-lane 50Gbps protocol is expected to increase the performance between the rack endpoint and switch 2.5 times the amount of current 10Gbps and 40Gbps Ethernet links.

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The 25 Ethernet Consortium, which now includes Google, Microsoft, Mellanox, Arista Networks and Broadcom, said the specification will be made available royalty-free to vendors that join the consortium

The specification covers physical and MAC layer behaviours, including virtual lane alignment, autonegotiation and forward error correction characteristics, according to the group.

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