If all goes as planned, ratification of Energy Efficient Ethernet, aka IEE 802.3az, could be complete by the end of September.
The protocol is supposed to help your networking routers, switches and other devices operate in a low-power consumption mode when they are not doing something useful, but in a way that doesn't interfere with visible network performance, says Wael Diab, vice chairman of the 802.3 working group and technical director of the office of the CTO for Broadcom. As a maker of the silicon that goes into a broad range of wireless and wireless communications devices, Broadcom obviously has a vested interest in this topic.
Diab says in order to take advantage of the new specification, a sweeping round of updates at the software and physical layer will be required. (The standard addresses 100Mbps, 1,000Mbps, and 10,000Mbps speeds.) In some cases, data center managers may be able to update existing network infrastructure that are delivered in modular chassis, but technologies that are delivered in an appliance format may be subject to a forklift upgrade in order to work. In other words, this is a standard that may require some investment. That's because the trick to making Energy Efficient Ethernet work to its optimal potential will be ensuring that both sides are aware of the protocol, otherwise network disruptions could occur.
"The system needs to understand that the software is going into this mode, and you need to make a decision when to go out of the low-power state," Diab says.
Definitely a standard to watch as it hits the data center late this year.