Consider the IEEE 802.3bp
Reduced Twisted Pair Gigabit Ethernet project currently underway. As the
name implies, the effort is defining delivery of Gigabit Ethernet over
less than the standard four pair used today—perhaps one or two pair.
One of the primary justifications for this project is networking
applications in vehicles. It has been forecasted that a nominal 300
million ports in automobiles will be shipped by the end of this decade. I
would say that is fairly high volume, wouldn't you?
And once we
have these networks in these vehicles, it is easy to envision the
various applications that will be developed. Can't you see the
commercials now—the kids in the back of the car screaming, and the
parent turning around to plug in some new toy into the automotive
network. The screaming and tears stop instantly as the kids start
watching streaming video or chatting with their friends. Okay, maybe not
instantly, but you get the idea.
As a parent with two kids who
have the electronic toys of today, the family trips I take now would be
so much easier if there were more ports in the car for them to charge
these toys. So how about Power over Ethernet for my car too?
example illustrates a few lessons that the Ethernet community should
consider. First, there are still applications out there for Ethernet
outside of the enterprise and data center. There are lots of places
where a mature networking technology could make an immediate impact.
benefits of networking are well known, and I don't see any reason to
re-iterate them here. However, the next lesson we can draw from this
example is this: Ethernet has a wealth of technology that can be
leveraged into a multitude of applications. And let me be clear—not
everything Ethernet does has to go 100m over UTP cable and connect with
an RJ45 connector. I would argue that mindset has limited the industry
from exploiting Ethernet's catalog of technologies.
would love to see a small form factor Ethernet connection for the
millions and millions of consumer products now being shipped. It is
time that the Ethernet industry recognize its own potential and start a
true consumer focused Ethernet project.
John D'Ambrosia is chief Ethernet evangelist, CTO office, at Dell.
Not long ago, "everyone" was telling us how the economy had fundamentally changed, only because some day traders were raking in millions for a short period of time. But in that time, these pundits couldn't see that the free-for-all was a mere blip in history, and that the economy would soon stamp out those who provided no added value to it.
Today's blip is handhgeld gadgets, and the pundits seem to think that these handheld toys are all there is and all there ever will be in the future. So if a technology doesn't immediately apply to the toy, that technology is supposedly "in decline."
Ethernet speeds keep going up because the carriers are using Ethernet in place of SONET, for their trunk lines. And the demands for capacity of the trunk lines and in all manner of core ISP networks are still going up. As people migrate their TV watching to the Internet, I can only predict a more demand for bandwidth in core ISP networks. So there's no question in my mind that Ethernet has to continue to grow, and that 802.11 is simply a different discussion, for a different set of applications.
IEEE 802.11 is merely a last-few-meters connection link. It ain't the main event. It is cabled Internet networks that do the heavy lifting.
As Bob Metcalfe pointed out in an interview last year, we tend to call the next generation of all networking technologies Ethernet even though they may be very different from the old collision sense multiple access technology he defined.
Yes, but only "sort of."
We only call Ethernet those LAN technologies that use the Ethernet frame format. And even more to the point, the original "carrier sense and collision detection" protocol has been obsolete for many years now, as the actual protocol used throughout any LAN. (If it's used at all, it only a lowest common denominator default protocol for *one* device talking to *one* switch port. Hardly its intended mission in life!)
The point made in this article was that with all the hype going to handheld toys, which use WiFi instead of Ethernet as their link to the Internet, isn't Ethernet becoming passe?
Of course not. That's a little bit like asking whether the concrete driveway up to your front door renders freeways obsolete. Sort of a silly point, isn't it? One has nothing to do with the other. Ethernet does a lot more than just attach an end device to this magic "cloud." Ethernet is also ubiquitous *in* that cloud. That's the point.
And as the cloud keeps gaining in speed, about an order of magnitude every 6 or 7 years, you're clearly going to need faster and faster Ethernet as time marches on.
Speaking as the author, Bert :), the actual intended point of the story is that there are a wealth of technologies developed in association and in support of Ethernet that have yet to be fully exploited for other markets. You want my personal opinion on this - the RJ45 connector has been as much a hindrance as a benefit to Ethernet. In my previous life whenever i asked about a new smaller form factor Ethernet connector - the RJ45 and Ethernet's 100m would come up as reasons as why nothing else should be done. I think this was extremely short-sighted, and probably played a very significant role in the rise of other technologies. Seriously, how many of us have these mobile devices where we may have a simple 1m cable? I would say that is a pretty big market!
The Ethernet community is awesome at developing awesome technologies - now we need people to step up and apply them!
Agree, John, that a smaller connector option for Ethernet might give it some additional roles. Don't think the IEEE should make such an upate a non-starter. After all, other interface standards, like USB, have done this sort of thing, no? Although for small handheld devices, seems to me the attraction of wireless would always be hard to beat.
I guess my point is that the future of Ethernet is hardly in jeopardy either way. The faster speeds are going to be in demand not significantly because anyone needs 100G Ethernet to their PC or tablet anytime real soon, but because the major carriers are leaving isochronous legacy protocols behind. SONET being the most recent of these. And these guys do need faster speeds real soon. So do the ISPs. The IEEE hardly finishes one new Ethernet speed update before it gets deployed in the real world. These applications are certainly not migrating to 802.11, is my point.
John, I agree with you.
The "old" days of IEEE 802.x focusing on 10x speed jumps might help a few, but not the billions.
1) How about a 10x power reduction focus; wired, wireless, whatever.
2) Or a 10x technology driven cost reduction focus (1 or 2 pair Gig on twisted pair is an ok goal...but Ethernet needs a 10x focus.
3) If the above mean Ethernet needs to revisit and fill in the present 10x speeds, go for it.
I think the big challenge is to recognize that Ethernet volumes are not the only indicator of Ethernet success any more.
The volume of data center connections, while substantially smaller than PC connections, is imperative to bringing PC/tablet/phone connectivity to fruition.
Visualize Ethernet as the pillar of a bridge that connects everything together. Having a lot of pillars is great. Having pillars that can hold up a huge bridge that connects billions of users is also important. 10G Ethernet will be doing that, and soon it will be 40G and rapidly 100G.
Connectivity via wires is becoming a smaller piece of the volume, but those wires will do what must be done, hold up the massive bridge that connects us all together.
Yes, I have to agree with Dan. At first, I thought people were questioning whether Ethernet would survive. Of course, it will. No need to reiterate the type of equipment that depends on Ethernet and would not do nearly as well with wireless.
But if the intent of the article was to make Ethernet somehow a prime choice for handheld gadgets, which is what everyone is talking about when they mention huge volumes, then I have to question why? Isn't it a bit like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole?
From the point of view of someone who doesn't have a dog in this race, I would say that one should choose the correct tool for each job.
While i would love to see Ethernet target the consumer application space, that wasn't the point of this blog. As i noted Ethernet technology is being leveraged in the automotive environment, and the port count it will bring is significant. I personally believe that too many people are equating Ethernet to the RJ45 interconnect and 100m UTP. Perhaps you are doing this with your square peg round hole analogy? There are numerous other signaling technologies that have been developed as part of Ethernet that in theory could be applied to other application spaces. We need to look for those opportunities Consumer applications are just an easy example to point to and say "Where's my Ethernet?"