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The IEEE approves the development of 400 Gb/s Ethernet

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April 4, 2014

It's finally confirmed-- the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has approved the development of the 400 Gb/s Ethernet specification.

Now known as IEEE P802.3bs, the standard has an official IEEE task force working on it to make it a reality and a short-term goal to “Define Ethernet Media Access Control (MAC) parameters, physical layer specifications, and management parameters for the transfer of Ethernet format frames at 400 Gb/s.”

Dell's John D'Ambrosia, acting chairman of the study group promoting 400 Gb/s Ethernet, has opiniated that the new standard will “debut towards the core of networks”.

He also thinks that the impact of work on this and other internet standards will not be felt for five to ten years.

In 2024 or thereabouts, it's entirely conceivable that plenty of cloud-scale data centres will be very glad of the chance to run 400 Gb/s connections at their core.

And maybe more than a few smaller-scale data centres will welcome it too: a few tens of thousands of virtual machines running on several thousand eight-core, ARM-powered femto-servers (based on technology pioneered in Samsung's Galaxy S10) pushing data into and out of the all-flash virtual SANS of 2024 are probably going to make quite an impact.

In other IT news

Red Hat has joined Cisco and is now working with its OpFlex protocol. Cisco sees ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) involvement as a way of spreading its KVM technology and possibly dropping VMware in the process.

Red Hat announced its participation in the ACI effort with Tim Burke, vice president for virtualization and cloud development, stating-- "Red Hat firmly believes that collaborative development is the driving force of innovation. Linux and OpenStack are remarkable examples of what can be accomplished through this community-powered innovation. Red Hat is excited to be collaborating with Cisco to offer our customers an Application Centric Infrastructure that is integrated with Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform."

It continued-- "Application-centric networking requires tight integration of the Linux operating system and KVM hypervisor with advanced policy-based networking provided by Cisco's ACI system."

To be sure, there are three levels of innovation, Burke says:

  • OpenStack Networking (Neutron) - network plugins enabling the configuration and policy, as well as upcoming OpenStack Orchestration (Heat) program;
  • Open vSwitch - by integrating Cisco's OpFlex interfaces supporting policy, Red Hat will accelerate the ability to efficiently perform configuration between switches and controllers;
  • OpenDaylight - controller level complement enabling the policy and configuration to take effect on the network plane.
  • He added-- "The most awesome aspect of Cisco's collaboration with Red Hat to drive this open source innovation project is that by working together, writing code and defining the interfaces with the community, we are creating a new de facto multi-vendor standard."

    Red Hat does have storage software, but it has had relatively little impact in the recent past. A Cisco UCS server running RHEL and KVM with attached Invicta flash arrays and Cisco networking equipment could be a nice converged system in deed.

    In the converged infrastructure stakes, you need server hardware, server software, networking hardware and software, storage software and its related hardware.

    Cisco has server hardware, networking hardware, software and some storage: the Invicta all-flash arrays. Partnering Red Hat to get the server virtualization part looks good from here on end.

    If Red Hat introduces a VSAN-like storage software offering so much the better. For its part, EMC does have some storage hardware and software as well. But it has to partner for server and networking hardware.

    In-house is fundamentally better than partnering, as converged infrastructure's integration can be so much deeper and co-ordinated.

    EMC may well have to partner with maybe a Taiwanese white box server manufacturer. It also needs networking hardware. Brocade would be eager to partner with EMC.

    How can EMC compete effectively with the cloud (Amazon, Google, Azure) which presents all its infrastructure as converged, unless it has its own in-house converged infrastructure which it can sell at affordable prices?

    This could be Joe Tucci's last great challenge; how to move EMC up to the next level and compete on an equal fitting with Cisco, Dell, HP and IBM. Does he want EMC to do this? Has he got the energy and ambition to do it?

    In other IT news

    Apple, Microsoft, IBM, GE, DuPont, Ford and Pfizer have all joined forces to endorse the basic soundness of the U.S. patent system as it stands now. The overwhelming message is that patents are good for business and the average consumer.

    The seven companies, which call themselves the Partnership for American Innovation, hopes to stem what their members see as overblown negativity and hostility toward the patent system in Congress, the courts and especially in the media.

    The group's charter members are Apple, Microsoft, IBM, GE, DuPont, Ford and Pfizer, and its senior advisor is Dave Kappos, the former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, who is now a partner with the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

    The group expects additional members to be enlisting in the days ahead, according to a spokesperson. "We must move beyond rhetoric that the system is broken and trolls are bringing businesses to a complete halt," Kappos said in a press release, "to a discussion of calibrated improvements for what is actually the best patent system our country has."

    The group's bottom-line message is astoundingly basic, and not tied to support for, or opposition to, any particular patent reform bill now pending in Congress or to any one issue now being weighed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The group's members merely endorse three broad principles:

  • The American economy is best served by a strong patent system that protects high-quality innovation in all fields of technology;
  • It is critical to our global economy that IP is respected by all participants in the system;
  • The US Patent and Trademark Office must be properly funded to efficiently and effectively process patent applications and issue only high-quality patents.
  • Though the formation of the group itself is tied to no topical hook, it does arrive tellingly just three days after oral arguments in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, a U.S. Supreme Court case that poses the fundamental question of whether computer-implemented inventions like software are patentable at all.

    In an interview with Kappos, the most specific information I could wheedle out of him was that the new group's members all apparently agree that software is certainly patentable.

    "How is it that cars can parallel park themselves today?," he asks, rhetorically. "Is it the sensors? Is it the cameras? No. Those existed before. It's the software. Period."

    "In the view of the partnership," he continues, "great innovation should be protected. Full stop. Software; firmware; biotech-related; physical sciences; pharmaceuticals: Great innovation is great innovation, and needs to be strongly incentivized and protected."

    In sharp contrast, in the Alice case, a number of younger Silicon Valley companies, including LinkedIn, Netflix and Twitter urged the Court that "software patents do not serve the Constitutional purpose of the patent system." In their brief, authored by Stanford Law School intellectual property scholar Mark Lemley, the companies argued: "We create innovative software because of our desire to delight our customers and despite, not because of the patent system," he said.

    Source: The IEEE.

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