Monday, October 18, 2010

10GBASE-T to Enable 10G Data Center Networks

By Lisa Huff

It’s now been more than eight years since the “original” 10G Ethernet standard (IEEE 802.3ae-2002) was released, yet we just passed the milestone of 1 million ports shipped last year. And, the market has really started to grow in 2010 with that many ports shipped just in the second quarter. The majority of these devices have been deployed into data centers around the world. Most of them have been SFP+-based until just recently. So what suddenly spurred the market on?

Just like its predecessor, Gigabit Ethernet, the 10G market will grow faster now that 10GBASE-T is a reality. Some of you may say, well, 10GBASE-T has been available for a few years now – not really. While most of us refrain from admitting it most of the time, in the Ethernet market, nothing really takes hold until Cisco (CSCO) has adopted it, and lo and behold, Cisco just recently released its first switch blades with 10GBASE-T ports. While I’m sure Cisco would like to take most of the credit, I have to point to the chip manufacturers here for diligently working to reduce the chip power consumption below the threshold of 5W per port so they can be used in high-density switches. Aquantia, Broadcom (BRCM), Teranetics (now part of PLX Technologies (PLX)) and SolarFlare have all now produced chips using their 40nm processes that have power consumption numbers at 3-4W/port. In fact, some even advertise numbers lower than this, but I would recommend caution in counting on these decreased specs, since they are probably based on something less than 100m-reach.

All of the above mentioned companies are also working on lowering the power consumption even more by developing 28nm processes. But, for the time-being, the 3-4W/port seem to be enough for all the top switch manufactures.

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