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Juniper Rolls First 100 Gigabit Ethernet Card

Though the economy is down, there is no slowdown in the demands being placed on carrier networks. It's an issue that Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR) is hoping to help solve with its new 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE)router interface card.

The 100 GbE card is one of the first commercially available 100 GbE products and is based on the upcoming IEEE 802.3ba standard. The 100 GbE technology could help to ease both bandwidth and management contraints on service provider networks. Juniper's card comes as the race towards 100 GbE deployments accelerates with vendors including Nortel, Cisco, Infinera and Ciena all testing deployments of the new higher speed Ethernet.

Juniper's new 100 GbE card is coming just ahead of the actual IEEE standard being ratified, though Juniper doesn't expect the pre-standard issue to be a problem.

"The technical aspects of the standard have been finalized, there are not going to be any technical changes," Luc Ceuppens, senior director of marketing for Juniper Networks high-end systems business unit, told InternetNews.com. "What's going on now with the standard is the whole process of ratification. "

The IEEE formally began its effort to create a 100 GbE standard in 2007. Currently, the fastest Ethernet standard is 10 GbE.

Cueppens noted that even if something does happen to change in the final ratified standard, the Juniper 100 GbE interface card uses a pluggable module standard. As such, he said, Juniper customers are insulated against any potential changes.

Juniper's interface card also is not yet certified by the Ethernet Alliance, which is ramping up a new Ethernet certification effort for 100 GbE equipment. According to Cueppens, Ethernet Alliance certification is something Juniper wants to do, it's just that its initial push was getting the card developed and ready for service providers.

How many wavelengths?

The new 100 GbE card is intended for Juniper T1600 core router, which can pump out up to 1.6 Terabits per second. The T1600 since its announcement in 2007, was engineered with support for up 100 Gigabits of throughput per slot with two 50 Gbps ASICS

With the new 100 GbE card Juniper is aggregating the packet flow into a single 100 GbE stream, which is something that Juniper has not done before.

"The physical interface card (PIC) has an upper module and a lower and combined they create the 100 GbE flow," Cueppens said. "So the new technology is the ASIC that takes flow from each individual slot and puts it on a single 100 GbE interface. So it's really a repacking of technology we have availability with a solution that can help service providers with cable and port management."

Juniper's technology is using 10 x 10 GbE optical wavelengths in order to create the 100 GbE packet flow. The idea is to consolidate connectivity to create more bandwidth that is easier to manage.

"In the short term what service providers are looking for is a reduction of physical connections. Right now they use multiple 10 GbE interfaces and it's an operational burden for them," Cueppens said. "So what we did with this solution is bring physical aggregation into the router."

With 100 GbE, Juniper is also trying to ensure that deployment is economically feasible for service providers. The current highest speed connection available for carriers is OC-768 which delivers 40 Gbps has cost as a barrier to adoption according to Cueppens

"The unappealing economics of the 40 gigabit technology (OC-768) that has been available for the last several years was that people found it is was still cheaper to do 4x10 gigabit than to do 1x40 gigabit," Cueppens said. "With 100GbE, it is actually economically feasible to do 1x 100GbE. We are able to offer the 100 GbE card for under the price of what is currently the price of 10, 10 GbE interfaces. From that perpective the economics are totally different that what we saw with OC-768."