Networks facing bandwidth tsunami: IEEE

Networks will need to support capacity requirements of 1 terabit per second in the next two years and possibly 10 terabit per second by 2020 if bandwidth demand continues to skyrocket, according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc. (IEEE).

The IEEE is investigating the development of a 400Gbps Ethernet standard to support the escalating demand for network bandwidth.

The IEEE 400 Gbps Ethernet study group will meet during the IEEE 802.1/802.3 May 2013 Joint Interim, from May 14 – 17 in Victoria, B.C.

Simultaneous increases in users, means of network access, access rates and services such as social media and video-on-demand, would mean that networks need to support 58 per cent compound growth rates in bandwidth demand, according to the organization.

Mobile data traffic, for instance, is expected to increase 13 times over the next four year and will overrun global fixed data traffic by a factor of three by 2017, according to Cisco Systems.

The developments are pressuring the IEEE to consider Ethernet solutions beyond 100G, even while 100G products are just appearing in the market, according to John D’Ambrosia, chair of the IEEE 802.3 400Gbps Ethernet Study Group and CTO of Dell.

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“There are already 40G servers – there’s a tsunami of bandwidth,” according to D’Ambrosia who noted that iPhone was not even around when 100G Ethernet was introduced.

For example, he said, social media sites such as Facebook are now supporting billions of users versus the tens of millions it in 2006 when 100G was first explored. The standards work on 100G Ethernet began four years ago and was only ratified in 2010.

D’Ambrosia said development of the standards for 400G Ethernet will likely follow the same timeline and see ratification in 2017.

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