25 Gigabit Ethernet Means Business

October 9, 2014 by Ixia Blog Team

With cloud builders like Google and Microsoft recognizing compelling reasons to want 25 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) speeds for their Ethernet, moving forward to form a consortium for 25GE makes perfect sense. As big data becomes even bigger, virtual machines grow in number, and cloud workloads become more demanding, it is expected that the largest cloud providers will be able to shift up from 10GE in the very near future.

25GE is out of the gate and moving fast, led by data center and cloud vendors such as Google, Microsoft, Broadcom, Arista and Mellanox – all promoting the 25 Gigabit Ethernet consortium. Ixia has announced that it has joined this consortium as an adopter with a goal to enable the acceleration of 25GE. The 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium proposes a new Ethernet specification at 25Gbps and 50Gbps that leverages the advent of 25-Gbit/s technology as well as existing IEEE standards at 10, 40, and 100Gbps. This group of influential cloud technology players is seeking not to redefine Ethernet, but rather to extend existing Ethernet standards to address a key performance and cost optimization in the data center. With companies like Broadcom already announcing availability of new Ethernet switches for cloud data centers featuring all-25Gbps per-lane interconnect, the 25GE race on!

Back in March 2014 the IEEE had a meeting in China, and Microsoft put out what is referred to as a “call for interest” – or “CFI” – with the idea of establishing a 25Gbps Ethernet standard with a 50 Gbps speed bump for certain applications.

Fast forward to today, 25GE is looking like the next data center server access port in next 5 years. The 25GE switch market is already estimated to hit $25B by 2018. According to the market research firm Dell'Oro, the uptake of 25GE will propel sales of 100GE switching as well. Cloud providers upgrading server access connections from 10GE to 25GE in 2016 will be one of two drivers towards the $25 billion market.

Why 25G Ethernet?

25GE technology already exists in 100Gbps. In terms of numbers, the 25Gbps and 50Gbps Ethernet links defined by the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium’s specification can provide 2.5 times faster performance than existing 10Gbps or 40Gbps Ethernet connections. This can equate to more than a 50 percent savings in rack interconnect cost per unit of bandwidth, and translates to a significant impact on an operator’s bottom line. It may also increase network scale and accommodate higher server density within a rack than what is currently achievable with 40Gbps Ethernet ToR links.

So what about 40GE?

Whether 25, 40 or 50GE will be the next rate for server interconnects and how this ties into the 400GE speed currently in development are questions that will be addressed and debated at the upcoming the Ethernet Alliance Technology Exploration Forum - TEF 2014: The Rate Debate- on Thursday, Oct. 16, in Santa Clara, Calif. Ixia is sponsoring the event, participating in these discussion while also showing the industry the world’s first 400GE test solution.