Researchers to develop 1 Terabit Ethernet by 2015

Summary:Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara are aiming for 1 Terabit Ethernet over optical fiber -- 1 trillion bits per second -- by 2015 and 100 Terabit Ethernet by 2020.

Today's Internet isn't built to handle the increase in data traffic and associated energy requirements projected over the next 10 years. And in half that time, current Ethernet technologies may not be able to keep up with the speed and bandwidth required for applications like streaming high definition video, cloud computing, and distributed data storage.

To get over this hurdle, researchers with the Terabit Optical Ethernet Center (TOEC) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) are aiming for 1 Terabit Ethernet over optical fiber — 1 trillion bits per second — by 2015 and 100 Terabit Ethernet by 2020. Google, Verizon, Intel, Agilent Technologies and Rockwell Collins are partnering with TOEC as founding industry affiliates.

“We’re going to need dramatic breakthroughs across multiple disciplines, not only in the core Ethernet technologies but in Ethernet-based networking and in the engineering and measurement systems used to develop and test these new technologies,” says Daniel Blumenthal, a Professor at UCSB and Director of TOEC.

Today's networking equipment is hitting a wall as 100 Gigabits per second is implemented because of the amount of power needed to run and cool the required systems. So to get Ethernet toward 100 Terabits per second, the underlying technologies will require to scale as needed. Using energy-saving technologies based on photonics is the path forward. (Scientists at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs report that optical transmission gear consumes more than a factor of 10 less than other network technologies such as cellular base stations and packet routers.)

According to a release, research at TOEC will build on advancements UCSB has made in materials, advanced electronics, photonic integrated circuit technology, silicon photonics and high-speed integrated optical and electronic circuits, and in bridging these new technologies with real networking systems.

Blumenthal says new low-cost, energy-efficient optical technologies that leverage the techniques now used in semiconductor manufacturing will be the foundation for the Ethernet of the future.

“Our strategy of using silicon photonics to create low-cost, integrated, Terabit-per-second devices fits perfectly with TOEC’s charter for energy-efficient high-speed Ethernet,” says Mario Paniccia, Director of Intel’s Photonics Technology Lab.

Topics: Networking


Christopher Jablonski is a freelance technology writer. Previously, he held research analyst positions in the IT industry and was the manager of marketing editorial at CBS Interactive. He's been contributing to ZDNet since 2003. Christopher received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at U... Full Bio

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