While standards work on 400 Gigabit Ethernet has just begun, market research and analysis firm CIR already predicts that the upcoming Ethernet specifications will change the face of data center network technology.
CIR notes in its new “Next-Generation Ethernet: From 100 Gbps to 400 Gbps and Beyond” report that large data centers have already begun to deploy 400-Gbps “aggregations” and backbones. However, the 400G Ethernet market won’t be ready to fully launch until the IEEE finishes its standardization efforts, a milestone that sources have told Lightwave likely won’t happen until 2017 (see “IEEE 802.3 400 Gigabit Ethernet Study Group chair warms to task”). Those new specifications should usher in a new era in data center technology, CIR predicts:
- 400 Gigabit Ethernet will be the most fiber-centric IEEE standard to date; copper is expected to be used only in chip-to-chip and chip-to-module interconnects.
- The technology should boost the use of singlemode fiber in the data center; combined with the previous insight, CIR expects this evolution to open new opportunities for manufacturers of fiber-optic connectors and active optic cables.
- If not immediately, given the likely use of 25-Gbps lanes in at least some version of 400 Gigabit Ethernet, the new IEEE standards should eventually end Ethernet’s previous reliance on 10-Gbps channels and NRZ modulation. The future will see 100-Gbps channels and PAM modulation, CIR believes.
The report assesses the business and deployment models emerging for 400 Gigabit Ethernet and provides tentative revenue and port forecasts. Along these lines, CIR believes that 400 Gigabit Ethernet technology will initially be sold into the same medium-to-large data centers as 100 Gigabit Ethernet is today, but believes that the addressable market for 400 Gigabit Ethernet will be considerably larger than that initially targeted for 100G. This is because the average data center has grown in size and new applications, especially “big data,” will push demand. CIR also sees the technology playing in metro and WAN applications.
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