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Is the world ready for 100 G Ethernet? Not just yet...

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December 3, 2014

With internet standards bodies everywhere and network equipment vendors gearing up for Ethernet speeds all the way up to 100 Gbps, people in the internet community are also going to need to upgrade their equipment to the new standards.

To that end, the University of New Hampshire's Inter Operability Laboratory (IOL) has announced a whole slew of new testing capabilities covering support for the 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps Ethernet standards, 25 Gbps serial lanes, and emerging power-over-Ethernet, backplane Ethernet, and automotive Ethernet environments.

The IOL's website outlines the full details of the new standards it's now supporting. IOL's Jeff Lapak said there's lots of room in the higher-speed Ethernet standards for minute differences between equipment vendors.

“At 100 Gbps, there's lots of port types, media, various modules and several form factors, and it takes a while to seperate the winners from the losers,” he added.

For example, much of the installed base of 100 Gbps Ethernet in data centres uses 10 lanes of 10 Gbps, but products using the emerging standard of four 25 Gbps lanes are also dubbed as hundred-gig products, but end users don't want to be burned by that.

So the IOL is placing a strong focus on its testing for the PHY layer. “Even in the 25 Gbps serial implementation, there's a handful of different connectors,” he said.

“In order to provide a detailed electrical analysis, you need to do some adaptation-– and characterising the connectors and developing a methodology to make the tests repeatable is a challenge, make no mistake,” he added.

“We also do a lot of our own tool development,” Lapak continued. “At the Ethernet layer, there aren't a lot of standard test harnesses to dive down to the single bit level.”

Lapak expects a 40/100 Gbps standard to take part in the first half of 2015 to demonstrate the interoperability of the emerging standards.

But in the automotive segment, the IOL will be testing new equipment operating to the single pair, 100 Mbps Ethernet standard under a partnership with the OPEN Alliance.

Other activities for the lab next year will include a PoE conference for the 802.3af and 802.3at standards. We'll keep you posted as to the dates when they are available.

Source: The University of New Hampshire.

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