25 June 2013

400GE: Work in Preparation


400GE will most likely succeed 100GE. How this new standard will be implemented in the future is, however, still a topic for discussion. At the WDM & Next Generation Optical Networking event in June 2013 this became clear during the panel debate ‘Addressing the needs for higher speeds – 400GE versus Terabit’ in which Martin Pels, senior network engineer at AMS-IX, participated. Other participants were Ghani Abbas from the Board of Directors of the Optical Interworking Forum, Peter Stassar, Technical Director at Huawei, and Marco Bertolini, Product Manager WDM Terrestrial Products at Alcatel-Lucent.

One of the topics that the panel discussed was the type of optical fiber to be used for 400GE. Would one fiber with one connector producing 16 light waves or one ribbon fiber containing several fibers (for example: 16 fibers of each 25GE or 10 fibers of each 40GE) be a good solution? The latter would not be an option for AMS-IX, explained Martin. “All twelve data centres where AMS-IX is located use fiber systems with one input fiber and one output fiber. To replace these systems with ribbon fibers would be unrealistic.” Vendors both in the panel and public indicated this information as valuable.

Another topic of discussion was the distance for which the 400GE must be applied. Do users of this Ethernet speed only need it for distances within data centres or for the metropolitan area as well? “For AMS-IX this depends on prices of equipment and available alternatives”, said Martin. “When looking at 100GE, one of our engineers was able to design our own 100Gbit/s module for metro reaches, because commercial modules were not available at that time.”

Close to the end of the debate moderator David Law, representative of the Ethernet Alliance & Working Group Chair (IEEE 802.3), asked every participant “Can we keep up with the demand?” Marco answered immediately with “We have to.” Martin cannot agree more. AMS-IX is constantly looking for solutions for the near future. For this the exchange mostly depends on its vendors. If they cannot keep up, it will certainly cause problems for AMS-IX.