Looking forward to 100G

CHICAGO ' Industry spokesmen are predicting that the insatiable consumer appetite for services, particularly video, will create an unprecedented demand for bandwidth in the next few years that will dwarf the growth of the Internet over the past 10 years. Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers predicted at the NXTcomm telecom trade show Tuesday that network loads would grow at a rate of from 200 to 500 percent a year.

To answer this need, a handful of infrastructure companies announced Tuesday the formation of the Road to 100G Alliance, dedicated to the proposition that industry needs to begin working now to turn out interoperable platforms that can operate efficiently at speeds of 100 Gbps.

'The infrastructure originally was built around the enterprise,' said alliance chairman Bill Weisinger, who is with founding member Bay Microsystems Inc. This architecture accommodates the thousands and hundreds of thousands of end points found in enterprise systems, but not the millions supposed by a consumer-driven Internet. Currently networks are bundling 10-Gbps links to get the bandwidth they need. But, 'the 10G links that are out there are not going to do it,' he said.

Equipment providers have focused on 10G bundles rather than true 100G equipment, and the alliance wants to shift that focus.

The alliance was founded by Bay Microsystems, Enigma Semiconductor, Integrated Device Technology, IP Infusion and Lattice Semiconductor. These companies cover the areas of network processing, search acceleration, traffic management, high-density backplane switching, configurable logic, search memories, intelligent network software and high-speed network input and output.

The group will not create standards or do independent interoperability testing or certification, Weisinger said. Rather, it will focus on assisting its members in integrating their products into workable, interoperable platforms.

'There are standards out there,' Weisinger said. 'There are products out there. But interoperability is the key.'

The group's efforts will start with integration of 40-Gbps products now on the market and move to developing true 100G products over the next few years.

'We have technology in the lab today,' Weisinger said. He said working subsystems should be available by 2009, with final platforms on the market by 2010. 'I think that's a realistic timeframe.'

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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