This year I have spoken about 100 Gigabit Ethernet and beyond at a number of technical conferences, both as a featured speaker and panelist. In my talks I have provided the respective audiences with an overview of the standard. However, during the Q&A sessions afterwards, the conversations eventually turn from the technology developed for IEEE Std. 802.3ba-2010 and look to the future.
What other technologies related to 40 GbE and 100 GbE will be developed? Will there be new form factors? When will 100 GbE cost less than 10 ports of 10 GbE? What applications will need 40GbE and 100GbE? Will the next speed be 400 GbE or Terabit Ethernet? When will it start?
All great questions, but the one question that really caught me off guard came at China Network World in early September in Beijing. The reporter didn’t ask me about technology, but instead asked what might be accomplished with the technology. In all honesty, I really hadn’t given it a lot of thought.
I had been spending a lot of time thinking about the technologies needed to create higher density/lower cost 100 GbE based systems. I had been spending a lot of time thinking about whether Google and Facebook would continue to be the poster companies for amazing bandwidth growth or whether new companies would emerge and exhibit even greater bandwidth requirements.
I pushed these thoughts aside to answer the question, and began to contemplate how the massive computing power created by network computing might be harnessed to find solutions to all of those problems plaguing mankind. But, when I looked at my iTouch, the very device I had talked to my son on the prior evening via the hotel internet and Skype, the answer took on a more personal side to me—it will help us to keep in touch with those we love, regardless of where we are.
So while we ponder the future of Ethernet, let’s not lose sight of how we will be able to employ it to make the future and the world a better place.
I hear you. i would much rather be home to give my kids a hug. However, the reality of my professional career is that i need to travel. Now when i say i want to stay in touch - i am really just talking audio.
Hard not to agree that keeping in touch with loved ones is a great use of technology...but is more really that much better? is having to see a person much better than just talking to them...or perhaps seeing them in person and be able to touch them would be so much more valuable? haptics anyone? Kris
Keeping in touch with loved ones is a great use of the technology and one I use every day. Another use is to make it possible to continue to write software that is inefficient when it comes to network bandwidth use. "Use all you want, we'll make more" has been the marching orders for many developers over the years.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.