The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers announced Monday the formation of the IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group, the goal of which is to develop the next generation of Ethernet technology with far greater speeds than today's current standards.
IEEE's research concluded that core networking bandwidth was observed to double every 18 months, on average, according to an IEEE Ethernet bandwidth assessment published in July (PDF). "For 2015, we expect the bandwidth that needs to be supported to be 10 times what it was in 2010, and in 2020, 100 times what it was in 2010," said John D'Ambrosia, chair of the new consensus group. New Ethernet standards with higher bandwidth capabilities will be required to keep up with this growth.
Currently, members of the IEEE consensus group are figuring out whether 400 gigabits per second or 1 terabit per second is the way to go for the next generation of Ethernet.
While the higher bandwidth of 1 Tbps sounds like the obvious winner, there are other factors to consider aside from just speed. For example, terabit-speed hardware is not as practical economically for both hardware manufacturers and their customers, the users of the hardware. Additionally, the 80 connections required for two-way terabit data transfer speeds would make for a cable of huge, unwieldy proportions.
Either way, laying the groundwork for the next generation of Ethernet is an important step, because it will make the process of future upgrades faster. While there is currently no set date for the new standard, D'Ambrosia told CNET that he "suspect(s) this is going to be a very fast-moving project."