Equipment makers show 100 GbE systems


The race by equipment manufacturers to build the next generation of high speed data networks continued this week with a demonstration at a supercomputing conference in the U.S.

The demo, at SC09 in Portland, Ore., saw 100 Gbps of test data fired to Seattle and back again through a single slot line card over a fibre-optic network using pre-production gear from Juniper Networks Inc. and Infinera Corp.

The system used a beta version of an upcoming 10-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet card from Juniper Networks plugged into one of the company’s T1600 Core Routers, and an Infinera DTN optical transport system equipped with a preproduction Infinera 100 GbE module. They were linked to the fibre networks of carriers Level 3 Communications LLC and Internet2, a U.S. research consortium.

“This is our first execution of this interface in a live network,” Alan Sardella, senior product marketing manager of Juniper’s high end systems, said in an interview

At its booth Juniper also demonstrated a line card with a 100GbE interface, which the company says complies with the IEEE’s 802.3ba draft high performance standard. The standard is expected to be finalized in the middle of 2010.

While the single port 100GbE line card won’t be finished until next year, the 10×10 GbE card for the T1600 should be ready for sale in the first quarter 2010, Sardella said. It will succeed the company’s eight-port 10GbE card.

Demand from some of the biggest carriers and service providers in the world for single-port 100 GbE interfaces is driven by the needs of high performance data centres, cloud computing and scientific applications.

Major networking equipment manufacturers, including Cisco Systems Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co., are working on gear that will carry 100Gbps. For example, in July Alcatel-Lucent announced a 100 Gigabit Ethernet service routing interface for the network edge.

Many routing and transport equipment makers are now demonstrating 100GbE gear, noted Glen Hunt, principal analyst for carrier infrastructure at Sterling, Va.,-based Current Analysis. Until recently the two areas have developed standards separately, he said. The Juniper-Infinera demo is interesting in that it shows “a closer trend between the traditional optical transport networks and the IP world.”

However, he added that providers will cautiously to 100 GbE equipment. Some, he added, might adopt 40 GbE gear first.

“Whether 40-Gig gets leapfrogged will depend on the cost of 100-Gig circuitry. You talk to the providers and they say, ‘I would use 100-Gig tomorrow if I could afford it and it was available.’

“Well, it will be available next year,” said Hunt, “but the price premium may be there for some time.”

However, he added that his sense is that in North America more providers will go for 100 GbE than 40 Gbe.

Drew Perkins, Infinera’s chief technology officer, agreed in an interview that some providers may first move to 40GbE first because it will be more affordable.

“It’s looking now like 100GbE is struggling to get to cost parity on a cost per bit basis with 10GbE,” he said.

“Our prediction now is that demand and real service deployment of 40GbE will likely emerge well before deployment of 100GbE,” he said, which will start in 2011.

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