100 Gigabit Ethernet is Here!


Ethernet technology has come a long way since its humble beginning in 1973 at Xerox PARC. With each subsequent iteration, there has been a lag between time of standardization and large scale adoption. The latest iteration, dubbed 802.3ba by the IEEE Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG), was ratified in June, 2010 and follows this same pattern but with a slight twist. For the first time in Ethernet history a single standard defines two separate speeds; 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE) as well as 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40GbE).


Figure 1: Original Ethernet Sketch

The technical challenges facing 100GbE have been significant; ranging from developing a whole new generation of optics that can handle 4 lanes of 25Gbps, to simply dealing with normal router and switch functions such as packet inspection, queuing, lookups, filtering and table updates, all in one-tenth the amount of time as with 10GbE. And of course this all has to be done with complete backwards compatibility and meeting all expectations with respect to bit error rate, latency, jitter and the like. As expected 40GbE gained some level of market acceptance first, but some 5 years after ratification the time for 100 Gigabit Ethernet is now!

This whitepaper will discuss the evolution of 100GbE technology in the service provider and data center markets and provide insights in to how network application acceleration hardware can be leveraged to maximize performance and efficiency in emerging 100GbE network appliances.

100GbE in Service Providers Networks

100GbE is rapidly approaching large scale adoption in the wide area network (WAN), which is largely the purview of service providers. This technology is often referred to as “Carrier Ethernet” because there are extensions needed to enable telecommunications service providers to utilize Ethernet technology in their networks. For example integration of 100GbE signals in to the Optical Transport Network (OTN), which is a standardized framework for deploying optical networks that can transport various types of data signals (including Ethernet) over long distances using wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) technology.

Figure 2: 100G Switch Ports Forecast

Service providers were the first to adopt 100GbE, and the earliest standards compliant deployments were in 2011 on long-haul, Internet backbone links between major cities in Europe and the US. These links, which are often 500 miles or more, connect core routers from vendors such as Cisco or Juniper via optical fiber and constitute the inner sanctum of the Internet. Because these links are at the Internet’s epicenter, as traffic volumes grow due to the latest viral YouTube video or increased use of cloud services by corporations, these links are the first to saturate. Service providers must stay ahead of demand by deploying new technology and at the same time increase efficiency. Prior to 100GbE, most long-haul links were 10G with some 40G here and there mostly from larger backbone providers. Consolidating network traffic onto a single 100G link rather than multiple 10G links is cost effective because it allows backbone providers to easily ramp up capacity, better utilize fiber capacity and overall is less error-prone

Starting from the core of the Internet in 2011, 100GbE has steadily moved outward in service provider networks. The next stop was large aggregation networks which feed in to the core and then finally towards metro area networks (MANs) which use Ethernet technology to provide high speed Internet access and facilitate communication between business, academic and government entities in a metropolitan area. 100GbE is now becoming well established in service provider networks and deployments are continuing to grow steadily.

About Accolade

Accolade is the technology leader in FPGA-based Host CPU Offload and 100% Packet Capture PCIe NIC’s and Scalable 1U Platforms. Accolade’s line of 1-100GE products enable 100% packet capture, flow classification, flow shunting, deduplication, packet filtering and more. Our customers are global leaders in network monitoring & cybersecurity applications as well as in the network test and measurement, telecom and video stream monitoring markets.

FPGA Acceleration Features

100% Packet Capture | Flow Classification | Flow Shunting | Precise Time Stamping | Packet Merging | Packet Slicing | Packet Parsing | Packet Filtering | Deduplication | Host Packet Buffer | Packet Steering | Direct Memory Access (DMA) | Statistics (RMON1)

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