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400G Task Force, 100G Backplane Project and Other Highlights from IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Standards Meeting

Comments(0)Filed under: Automotive Ethernet, IEEE 802.3, Ethernet standards, 25G Ethernet, 100G backplane, 400G
Here is another report from an IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standards meeting, this time held in Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk has a large naval base and, while I was there, I got to see the USS Cole and the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
Here is a photo of the USS Cole: 

Although the weather was good during the meeting, there were travel disruptions at the beginning and end of the meeting due to bad weather. On the return journe, I missed my connection in Newark, New Jersey, and ended up needing to find a hotel room near Newark at 1:00am. The positive of this is that I got to experience Secaucus, New Jersey, which is a place I don’t think I would have otherwise had a chance to visit.
You can see both the Empire State Building (left) and One World Trade Centre (right) from Secaucus.
There was much activity at the meeting. The 802.3bs (400G) project held its first meeting as a task force, attracting over 100 attendees. Also, two new study groups met for the first time. The 802.3bj (100G backplane) project completed its work at the last meeting, so as one project finishes, two new ones come along to take its place.
The first new study group is looking into creating a 100M single twisted pair PHY for the automotive industry. Their intention is to create an 802.3 standard for the Broadcom BroadR-Reach automotive PHY. The automotive industry is of the opinion that 802.3 is the best forum to create a standard that will ensure true interoperability and openness.
The second new study group wants to standardize a gigabit PHY that can operate over plastic optical fibres. Plastic optical fibres have the advantage over glass fibres in that they are easier to terminate and have better reliability in environments that are susceptible to vibration. This makes them suitable for home, industrial, and automotive environments.
Another topic that was being discussed at the meeting was 25G Ethernet. There was a call for interest for 25G Ethernet at the last meeting in Beijing in March. Although there was a majority in favor of starting a study group on this, the proposer felt he did not have enough support to proceed. Many parties were very disappointed with this outcome, and there is likely to be another attempt to start this work at the next meeting in July. If 25G standardization is not done in 802.3 it will likely be done elsewhere, but the industry as a whole prefers Ethernet standardization to be done in 802.3.
Cadence believes that 25G Ethernet is necessary. It is a natural data rate for servers and fits well with 25G lane rate that is now becoming common for 100G.
Other work ongoing in 802.3 is a project (802.3bp) to develop a gigabit single twisted pair copper PHY for the automotive industry. This will provide an increase in speed over the 100M PHY that is beginning to be deployed. Related to this is a project to deliver power over the same single twisted pair copper cabling. This is the 802.3bu (1-Pair Power over Data Lines - PoDL) project.

Another project is 802.3bq (40GBASE-T), which is developing a 40G PHY for use with four-pair, twisted-pair copper cabling. This will be relevant for datacenter applications. There was also talk about starting a study group in March 2015 to look into creating standards for 40G serial Ethernet.
Arthur Marris (May 2014) 


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