Establishing a coherent 100-gigabits/sec ecosystem

A networking industry organization has formed a technical committee and given initial working groups the task of evaluating obstacles to interoperable 100 gigabits/sec data path and optical interfaces.

The Road to 100G Alliance is a nonprofit corporation aiming to establish an interoperable multi-vendor networking environment capable of supporting native connections of 100 gigabits/sec.

The standard high-end optical networking technology deployed today is 10 gigabits/sec, although standards have been developed for 40 gigabits/sec that have not yet been widely deployed. Boosting bandwidth typically is done now by bundling multiple 10G optical channels to achieve total capacity as high as 100 gigabits/sec. The alliance predicts that although native 100G networking is on the way, the next step is likely to be bundling 20 gigabits/sec channels to achieve speeds as high as 160 gigabits/sec.

The alliance wants to smooth the way for native 100G networking by helping to ensure interoperability early in the development process.

'In order to address the challenge of delivering 100G networks, it is important to develop an entire ecosystem,' in which networks, equipment manufacturers and software developers build to the same standards, the alliance said in a white paper released last month.

Lalit Merani, product planning manager at Lattice Semiconductor Corp., chairs the technical committee. The first two working groups will focus on optical and electrical interfaces.

'Interoperability of 100G optical and electrical components represents two of the most critical areas that need early resolution if 100G systems are to reach the market quickly,' Merani said.

The working groups will evaluate existing and developing technology and standards to identify issues and make recommendations when shortcomings are found. The interfaces are two of seven technical areas identified by the alliance where impediments to 100G platforms might exist. Other areas are data plane and control plane processing, switching, system power and printed circuit boards.

High-performance dense wavelength division multiplexing interfaces today typically are vendor specific. An infrastructure based on a common system will accelerate development and deployment of higher-bandwidth infrastructures, according to the alliance. Demand for new capacity is being driven by increasing video and voice content on packet-switched networks. The increase in services, devices and subscribers has lead to explosive and unpredictable traffic growth, the alliance said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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