MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Luminaries in communications technology gather this week at the Computer History Museum here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ethernet. We talked with Broadcom co-founder and chief technology officer Henry Samueli about six directions in which he sees the technology heading.
We start with the car. Broadcom is a relative newcomer to automotive electronics, but it has set up an alliance to drive Ethernet into tomorrow’s cars using Broadcom silicon. It competes with the Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) group formed in 1998.
“We will see a transition to Ethernet in automotive [because] as we’ve seen in every other market, Ethernet always wins,” said Samueli. “We are doing extraordinarily well with 100-plus members in our alliance-- every major auto maker behind a single copper pair for 100 Mbits/s Ethernet in automobiles.
“This year BMW will deploy it in some models,” Samueli said. “It’s taking off better than expected, and in five plus years it will the de facto standard in cars,” he predicted.
MOST has been around the automotive market longer, recently boosted its data rates to 150 Mbits/s and claims support for Ethernet.
“MOST is the incumbent and has a lot of backers, but Ethernet always wins--it has a massive installed base and ecosystem that keeps driving costs down,” he said.
Silicon photonics has gotten a lot of attention especially for use in the data center. Recently, Intel announced a 100G technology and Mellanox acquired startup Kotura.
“Silicon photonics is a very important technology for the concentration of data rates in network switches,” Samueli said. “Our Trident 2 switch chip has up to 1.28 terabits/s of data coming on and off the chip in real time and its getting more and more expensive in power dissipation and consumption to do that electrically, so moving optics closer to silicon makes sense--it will happen as we move beyond Tbit,” he said.
Samueli wouldn’t say just how or when Broadcom will get into silicon photonics. However, he did say the company has multiple projects in development using the latest 25 Gbit/s serdes and research on 50 and 100G serial links. The 25G serdes will be a key building block for next-gen 400G Ethernet now being defined by the IEEE.