Engineer internet

100GigE – 5 years from initial idea to standard

Day1 of LINX69 had networking equipment vendor Brocade giving an interesting talk about the rollout timescales for the 100GigE standard.

The 100Gig standard has taken 5 years from initial ideas to fruition with ratification being expected in June 2010. Coincidentally the 40Gig standard will have taken the same amount of time with a parallel development aimed at the server market.

40Gig kit reuses some 10Gig elements which is what should allow it to fit in the appropriate part of the price/performance curve.

Whilst a number of vendors have announced 100Gig products it remains to be seen how rapidly some of these will be rolled out and adopted. During the last wave of network upgrades (1Gig to 10Gig) many equipment vendors had their fingers burned as industry uptake took a lot longer than anticipated. Nortel, for example had apparently predicted 2 million 10Gig port shipments by 2002 but actually took another 7 years to hit that volume. Somewhat symptomatic of the problems the Nortel business found themselves in methinks.

The upshot is that vendors are unlikely to rush out 100Gig products.

We expect of course that next gen technologies result in lower per port costs. Currently this is not the case for 100Gig due to high optics and component costs. Based on historical trends these are expected to drop in 2011/2012. For the moment 100Gig is therefore very much one for the early adopter.

The chart below shows the timeline between adoption of the standard for each technology. Considering that it takes 5 years to develop a standard and looking at the 2002 dot com bubble bursting date that the 10Gig standard was ratified  it is perhaps no surprise that 100Gig was delayed.

Ethernet technology adoption timeline - courtesy Brocade Networks
Ethernet technology adoption timeline
Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

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