The evolution of Ethernet has gone from a paltry 10 Mbit/s to 100Mbit/s with the introduction of Gigabit Ethernet back in 1999. Gigabit Ethernet however, has quickly gained popularity over Fast Ethernet, transporting Ethernet frames at 1,000 Mbit/s. According to a report from Cisco however, these speeds will not be fast enough to sustain the future demand for mobile traffic and the onslaught of 802.11ac Wi-Fi ready devices will eventually make Gigabit Ethernet obsolete.
It is little wonder why Broadcom, a company involved in both the wireless and broadband fields of the communication business, has begun pushing for the standardization of 2.5-Gigabit and 5-Gigabit Ethernet standards.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) forecasts that “mobile data traffic will surpass 30 Exabytes per month in 2018” and that “An estimated 52 percent of that traffic will be offloaded from the cellular network to the fixed network through WiFi, adding to the vast amount of wireless data otherwise transmitted over WLAN in enterprise and campus environments”.
The new Gigabit Ethernet data rates are expected to work with end-user devices like high-performing desktops and laptops, but they will also benefit enterprise applications for Ethernet as well. According to IEEE802.org, the plenary meeting set for this November in San Antonio, Texas, will investigate the market need for “Ethernet speeds between 1 Gb/s and 10 Gb/s over balanced twisted-pair cabling…at 100m reach using the installed base of Cat5e (or better) structured cabling.”
IEEE has recently taken steps to optimize data center and blade servers with the organization’s new 802.3bj standard that sets the parameter for backplane speeds to operate at 100GB/s and support Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE). These new standards anticipate the growing demand for cloud computing. If Broadcom galvanizes enough interest in creating standards for 2.5 GB and 5Gb Ethernet, network administrators will be able to more aptly future-proof servers to support the growing demand in mobile and wireless traffic as well.
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