SAN JOSE, Calif. Companies driving to 40 Gbit/s Ethernet could settle on a single proposal as early as their next meeting, thanks in part to a recent switch from Broadcom. The news emerged from an interview with a Broadcom group chief technologist who was unveiling a range of new 65nm Ethernet chips at Interop.
The IEEE group working on standards for 40 and 100 Gbit/s Ethernet had three 40G proposals until Broadcom decided to switch to backing a so-called multi-link distribution (MLD) proposal. Nick Ilyadis, CTO of Broadcom's Ethernet networking group, said the MDS proposal probably has enough support to win out at the next meeting of the IEEE 802.3ba.
"MLD offers the performance, economics and ease of integration to help get to 40 Gbit quickly, and in my mind 40G is very much a core data center technology the market wants today," Ilyadis said.
MLD uses a bit interleaving approach. It requires less buffering at the transceiver than a competing symbol interleaving approach backed by system maker Hua Wei, according to Ilyadis.
Broadcom is also tracking the move to Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), seen by many as a significant step toward converging network and storage traffic in the data center. Chip designers will need time to figure out how to best implement IEEE standards still in development to define a lossless version of Ethernet needed to carry Fibre Channel traffic, he said.
"There are a lot of open questions such as how many switch hops are effective for a lossless Ethernet link," Ilyadis said. "We have a lot of learning ahead after the standards are finished to understand what is a realistic implementation," he added.
Although Cisco Systems and a range of other companies announced FCoE products recently, Ilyadis predicted that there will be limited availability of such systems this year. "It will be 2010 or 2011 before you see FCoE out there in a big way," he said.
At Interop, Broadcom launched its first 10GBase-T transceiver for sending 10 Gbit/s Ethernet over 100 meters of Category 6a cable. The announcement follows on the heels of startups Aquantia and Solarflare that rolled out 5.5w chips for 10GBase-T recently.
Ilyadis would not give any specifics on the power consumption, latency or cost of Broadcom's new parts. However, he did say the 10GBase-T devices can automatically ratchet back power consumption based on the length of a copper connection.
He also noted that a second-generation 10GBase-KR part Broadcom rolled out for 10 Gbit backplane Ethernet will consume just 1.2W per channel, claiming it leads the industry in lowest power consumption.
Separately the company refreshed it range of Gbit and 10Gbit Ethernet switches. They range from a five-port Gbit switch for small business systems to a switch with 48 Gbit and four 10G ports. All the parts are made in 65nm technology.
The rise of 10G Ethernet has been sluggish to date, dogged by parts with relatively high power consumption and cost. Less than 400,000 10GE switch ports shipped last year, probably half of them not populated, and only about 30,000 server cards have been sold.
"We are very bullish on 10G and believe we have the widest portfolio of 10G parts in the industry," Ilyadis said.