Microsoft, Google form Ethernet consortium for datacenter networks

Microsoft, Google and other firms have come together to form the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium with the aim of improving cloud datacenter networks.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

Five tech giants, including Google and Microsoft, have formed a consortium to push ahead with creating specifications for both 25 Gigabit Ethernet and 50 Gigabit Ethernet.

Announced this week, the new 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium's members include Arista Networks, Broadcom, Google, Mellanox Technologies and Microsoft. The aim of the consortium is to create standards for both 25 Gigabit Ethernet and 50 Gigabit Ethernet, which are necessary in order to convert speed into systems. This kind of performance is becoming increasingly important due to the expansion of cloud technology, and in particular, to optimize datacenters.

The consortium was formed after plans to create official Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) specifications stalled at a meeting last March, due to a perceived lack of support.

The consortium announced the "royalty-free availability of initial specifications for both a single-lane 25-Gbps Ethernet and dual-lane 50-Gbps Ethernet link protocol" for vendors, according to the group's statement. The specification aims to "support Ethernet-based transmission between server network interface controllers (NICs) and top-of-rack (ToR) switches [..] covering Ethernet physical layer (PHY) and media access control layer (MAC) behavior, including virtual lane alignment, autonegotiation, and forward error correction characteristics."

The tech giants say that in essence, specifications published by the consortium "maximizes the radix and bandwidth flexibility of the data center network while leveraging many of the same fundamental technologies and behaviors already defined by the IEEE 802.3 standard."

Anshul Sadana, Senior Vice President of Customer Engineering at Arista Networks commented:

The companies joining the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium are taking a major step forward in increasing the performance of datacenter networks. With ever-increasing server performance and with the uplinks from the leaf to the spine layer migrating to 100 Gbps in the near future, it makes sense to increase the access speed from 10 Gbps to 25 and 50 Gbps.

The consortium members predict that technology based on these standards could hit the market within the next 12 to 18 months.

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