New Consortium Pushes for 25 and 50 Gbps Data Center Ethernet Connectivity

Microsoft, Mellanox, Google, Broadcom and Arista come together in new effort.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jul 7, 2014
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In data centers today, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) is increasingly the norm for connectivity. There is also an IEEE standard for 40 and 100 GbE Ethernet, that was first discussed back in July of 2007 by the IEEE 802.3 Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG) that is in various stages of deployments in data centers and service provider networks. Apparently though, 40 and 100 GbE are not the speeds that some vendors want to be deploying inside data centers and a group has now formed to push for 25 and 50 GbE speeds.

While 10, 40 and 100 GbE are all open standards available to anyone, the new effort is not an IEEE-led initiative. According to a spokesperson from Broadcom, the new specification is available royalty-free to any data center ecosystem vendor or consumer who joins the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium. The initial members of the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium include Microsoft, Mellanox, Google, Broadcom and Arista. Surprisingly, networking giant Cisco is not on the list. Cisco did not respond to a request for comment from Enterprise Networking Planet by press time.

Full details on how the new 25 and 50 GbE specification will work have not yet been published by the consortium, though the group does hint at the general direction. According to a release issued by the consortium, the specification will define a single-lane 25 Gbps Ethernet and dual-lane 50 Gbps Ethernet link protocol. The consortium claims the new specification will enable up to 2.5X higher performance per physical lane or twinax copper wire between the rack endpoint and switch compared to current 10 Gbps and 40 Gbps Ethernet links.

While the new 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium is still in its initial stages, the group has aggressive plans for deployment inside of the next 12 to 18 months.

"The companies joining the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium are taking a major step forward in increasing the performance of data center networks,” said Anshul Sadana, Senior Vice President, Customer Engineering, Arista Networks in a statement. "With ever-increasing server performance and with the uplinks from the leaf to the spine layer migrating to 100 Gbps in the near future, it makes sense to increase the access speed from 10 Gbps to 25 and 50 Gbps."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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