40/100G networks to mix Ethernet, InfiniBand, SONET

Ethernet will not dominate multi–gigabit networks to the extent it has dominated sub–gigabit networks, says a new report from Freesky Research (www.freeskyresearch.com), 40 and 100 Gigabit Networks: Technologies, Markets, Applications.

As LAN speeds increased to a gigabit, the most cost–efficient networks embraced Ethernet as their primary data link protocol, note the analysts. But as LAN, SAN, and MAN speeds surpass a gigabit, the most cost–efficient networks are embracing multiple data link protocols. Freesky Research asserts these diverse topologies are not the result of sunk costs in Fibre Channel or InfiniBand, but rather the ability to combine low–cost, interprocessor links in I/O and storage with low–cost, interswitch links in LANs and data centers. Concerns about multiprotocol complexity are being trumped by capital budget simplicity.

“The defining economic characteristic of sub–gigabit networks was framing, while the defining economic characteristic of multi–gigabit networks is clocking,” explains David Gross, author of the report. “Therefore, in 40– and 100–gigabit networks, Ethernet will frequently interconnect with Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, even SONET, and will not be able to kill off those protocols the way it decimated token ring, FDDI, and ATM.”

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