Network bandwidths are growing across the world with Gigabit Ethernet widely deployed by businesses. 10 Gigabit Ethernet could be viewed as simply as a speed step-up for Ethernet however that would be a mistake. In time 10GE will surely replace Gigabit Ethernet as the standard network interface, but ahead of that 10GE is already having a profound impact on the architecture of many parts of the network
10GE was specified to share components with 10Gbits Sonet/SDH and 10Gbit/s Fibre Channel. Following work within the Metro Ethernet Forum and other organisations 10GE is now replacing Sonet/SDH in the Metro and wide area network. 10GE supports many physical media and 10Gbase-KR based backplanes are replacing proprietary interconnects within many systems. The 10Gbase-KR based PICMG3.1 Option 9 is already the fabric interconnect of choice for ATCA.
The first high-volume market for 10GE is proving to be in the data centre. Dual and quad core servers can already handle multi-gigabit bandwidths. Top-of-rack 10GE switches are available several vendors including Arista Networks (Ex-Cisco SVP to Lead Andy Bechtolsheim’s Latest Switch Startup), Blade Network Technologies, Cisco and Woven Systems with either copper or SFP+ optics. These switches integrate network virtualization and support for additional protocols including Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).
Fibre Channel has been the leading interconnect within the storage industry and FCoE is a key technology for making Ethernet the common network in the data centre (Reality Check: The FCoE Forecast). At 10Gbit/s FCoE can deliver the same performance as 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel and is quickly becoming more cost-effective.
These developments in the data centre together with Metro Ethernet, Ethernet transport and the introduction of the first 10Gbase-T twisted pair solutions will make 10GE the most significant network technology since the introduction of switched Ethernet. The widespread use of 10GE (Big bandwidth coming on strong) will enable significant increases in embedded system performance and drive further developments including 40/100 Gigabit Ethernet.