LAS VEGAS — The race for faster Internet connection speeds just blazed past a milestone with one of the first public demonstrations of a working 100 GbE (100 Gigabit Ethernet) link.
The demonstration is at the NXTcomm conference and trade show in Las Vegas and involved a return loop of 100GbE traffic to Las Angeles. Infinera, Avago and Ixia are the equipment suppliers for the 100GbE feat, which traveled over the XO network.
The 100GbE link is not compliant with the IEEE
But the test, and the effort to move to 100GbE is of paramount significance to the Internet because the throughput speeds will expand the available bandwidth for data transport to help meet the growth in demand. (After all, Gigabit Ethernet alone supports data transfer rates of 1,000 Gigabits per second.)
“This is good news for the industry that 100GbE is making good progress such that people can actually start building pre-standard implementations now and service providers can begin deploying as soon as all the pieces are there,” Drew Perkins, Infinera CTO, told InternetNews.com.
“When standards are fully ratified in a few years we expect that fully standard implementations will be following very quickly.”
Perkins said service provider networks have been using 10GbE today and then using some form of link aggregation like the IEEE 802.1ad standard to bond the links together. Perkins noted that currently service providers can bond 16 10GbE links together, providing an aggregate of over a hundred gigabits of bandwidth.
“Link bonding approaches today while getting the job done – are strained,”
Perkins explained. “And in terms of operational management issues there are overhead cost issues. By taking a bunch of 10 gig links you have to manage them each individually and any one could have issues.”
With 100GbE the basic idea is to provide service providers with a single interface instead of 10 interfaces which Perkins argued will reduce both capital and operational costs.
In 2006 the IEEE began a High Speed Ethernet effort now formally known as
802.3ba. In May of this year the IEEE approved some key baseline proposals that will be part of the standard when it is completely ratified in 2010.
One of the baseline proposals that has been accepted is for 100GBASESR10.
Perkins explained that 100GBASESR10 is a standard for how you put the bits over multimode optical fiber.
The second baseline proposal adopted is called Multi Lane Distribution (MLD) and what that does is provide another way to bond links but in a more effective way current methods.
“So instead of putting individual packets on individual channels MLD puts the packet on multiple channels and makes it look like one link and not 10 links,” Perkins explained. “MLD allows us to bond 10 electrical channels at 10 GbE each across an interface card or cable or multimode fiber.”
Network testing vendor Ixia’s part of the 100GbE puzzle is that they have an MLD compliant tester that can put 100GbE of traffic using the baseline proposals. The Infinera DTN transport system takes in 100GbE data streams and then puts it out across the long haul network. Network access provider XO which is an Infinera customer put the system into place over their network and for the NXTcomm demonstration has deployed 100GbE between LA and Las Vegas and back again.
Perkins noted that being two years out from a standard there are minor things that could change in his view everyone believes in the approved baseline proposals. That said Perkins did caution that it’s probably not a good idea to deploy 100GbE across a full production network quite yet.
“These are all just demonstrations and proof of concept prototypes,” Perkins commented. “People probably have another year or so to wait till it’s really ready for commercial service.”
It’s also not yet clear how much implementing 100GbE will cost, though Perkins argued it will be more cost effective than the current bandwidth champ OC-768
(which delivers 40Gbps of bandwidth).
“It’s hard to predict what pricing will be, but people don’t want 100GbE to cost more than 10x 10GbE,” Perkins said. “I won’t be surprised if that’s what it costs out of the gate but over time I expect it will be lower how much lower I don’t know.”