Terabit Ethernet

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Terabit Ethernet or TbE is used to describe speeds of Ethernet above 100 Gbit/s. As of 2016, 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400G, 400GbE) and 200 Gigabit Ethernet (200G, 200GbE)[1] standards are planned for official release by the IEEE P802.3cd Task Force in December 2017,[2] using broadly similar technology to 100 Gigabit Ethernet.[3][4] In 2016, several networking equipment suppliers were already offering proprietary solutions for 200G and 400G.[2]

There's currently no IEEE technology roadmap beyond 400 Gbit/s—"sometime after 2020"[attribution needed]—but doubling to 800 GbE is expected to occur when single-lane 100 GbE links become available. This technology might also allow larger lane bundles, possibly providing 1 TbE or 1.6 TbE links with 10 or 16 lanes.[5][6]


Facebook and Google, among other companies, have expressed a need for TbE.[7] While a speed of 400 Gbit/s is achievable with existing technology, 1 Tbit/s (1000 Gbit/s) would require different technology.[3][8] Accordingly, at the IEEE Industry Connections Higher Speed Ethernet Consensus group meeting in September 2012, 400 GbE was chosen as the next generation goal.[3] Additional 200GbE objectives were added in January 2016.

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) attracted help from Agilent Technologies, Google, Intel, Rockwell Collins, and Verizon Communications to help with research into next generation Ethernet.[9]

As of early 2016, chassis/modular based core router platforms from Cisco, Juniper and other major manufacturers support 400 Gbit/s full duplex data rates per slot. One, two and four port 100GbE line cards are presently available, with 200GbE and 400GbE expected to become available after standard ratification.[10]


The IEEE formed the "IEEE 802.3 Industry Connections Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Ad Hoc", to investigate the business needs for short and long term bandwidth requirements.[11][12][13]

IEEE 802.3's "400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group" started working on the 400 Gbit/s generation standard in March 2013.[14] Results from the study group were published and approved on March 27, 2014. Subsequently, the IEEE 802.3bs Task Force[15] started working to provide physical layer specifications for several link distances.[16] Standards are expected in December 2017[17] and the IEEE P802.3bs drafts are available online.[18]

Project objectives[edit]

Like all speeds since 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the standard will support only full-duplex operation. Other objectives include:[16]

  1. Support MAC data rates of 400 Gbit/s and 200 Gbit/s[1]
  2. Preserve the Ethernet frame format utilizing the Ethernet MAC
  3. Preserve minimum and maximum frame size of current Ethernet standard
  4. Define physical layer specifications that support link distances of:
    • 400 Gbit/s Ethernet
      • at least 100 m over multi-mode fiber (400GBASE-SR16) using sixteen parallel strands of fiber each at 25 Gbit/s[19][20]
      • at least 500 m over single-mode fiber (400GBASE-DR4) using four parallel strands of fiber each at 100 Gbit/s[21][22]
      • at least 2 km over single-mode fiber (400GBASE-FR8) using eight parallel wavelengths (CWDM) each at 50 Gbit/s[21][23][24]
      • at least 10 km over single-mode fiber (400GBASE-LR8) using eight parallel wavelengths (CWDM) each at 50 Gbit/s[21][24][25]
    • 200 Gbit/s Ethernet
      • at least 500m over single-mode fiber (200GBASE-DR4) using four parallel strands of fiber each at 50 Gbit/s[26][27]
      • at least 2 km over single-mode fiber (200GBASE-FR4) using four parallel wavelengths (CWDM) each at 50 Gbit/s[1][27]
      • at least 10 km over single-mode fiber (200GBASE-LR4) using four parallel wavelengths (CWDM) each at 50 Gbit/s[1][27]
  5. Support a bit error ratio (BER) of 10−13, which is an improvement over the 10−12 BER that was specified for 10GbE, 40GbE, and 100GbE.
  6. Support for OTN (transport of Ethernet across optical transport networks), and optional support for Energy-Efficient Ethernet (EEE).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "IEEE 802.3 NGOATH SG Adopted Changes to 802.3bs Project Objectives" (PDF). 
  2. ^ a b "High-Speed Transmission Update: 200G/400G". 
  3. ^ a b c "Network boffins say Terabit Ethernet is TOO FAST: Sticking to 400Gb for now". 
  4. ^ On-board optics: beyond pluggables
  5. ^ Jim O'Reilly. "Ethernet Roadmap: A Raft Of New Speeds". NETWORKComputing.com. 
  6. ^ "The 2016 Ethernet Roadmap" (PDF). ethernetalliance.org. 
  7. ^ Feldman, Michael (February 3, 2010). "Facebook Dreams of Terabit Ethernet". HPCwire. Tabor Communications, Inc. 
  8. ^ Matsumoto, Craig (March 5, 2010). "Dare We Aim for Terabit Ethernet?". Light Reading. UBM TechWeb,. 
  9. ^ Craig Matsumoto (October 26, 2010). "The Terabit Ethernet Chase Begins". Light Reading. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Cisco 4 x 100 Gbit/s interface". 
  11. ^ Stephen Lawson (May 9, 2011). "IEEE Seeks Data on Ethernet Bandwidth Needs". PC World. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  12. ^ "IEEE Industry Connections Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment" (PDF). IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group. July 19, 2012. Retrieved 2015-03-01. 
  13. ^ Max Burkhalter Brafton (May 12, 2011). "Terabit Ethernet could be on its way". Perle. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  14. ^ "400 Gb/s Ethernet Study Group". Group web site. IEEE 802.3. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  15. ^ IEEE 802.3bs Task Force
  16. ^ a b "Objectives" (PDF). IEEE 802.3bs Task Force. Mar 2014. Retrieved 2015-03-01. 
  17. ^ "Adopted Timeline" (PDF). IEEE 802.3bs Task Force. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  18. ^ "P802.3bs - IEEE Draft Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 200 Gb/s and 400 Gb/s Operation". IEEE 802.3bs Task Force. Retrieved 2017-04-26. 
  19. ^ 100m MMF draft proposal
  20. ^ "400GBase-SR16 draft specifications" (PDF). 
  21. ^ a b c IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group Liaison letter to ITU-T Questions 6/15 and 11/15
  22. ^ 400G-PSM4: A Proposal for the 500m Objective using 100 Gbit/s per Lane Signaling
  23. ^ 400Gb/s 8x50G PAM4 WDM 2km SMF PMD Baseline Specifications
  24. ^ a b Baseline Proposal for 8 x 50G NRZ for 400GbE 2km and 10km PMD
  25. ^ "400 GbE technical draft specifications" (PDF). 
  26. ^ IEEE 802.3 NGOATH SG Adopted Changes to 802.3bs Project Objectives Updated by IEEE 802.3 NGOATH Study Group, Mar 16, 2016, IEEE 802 Mar 2016 Plenary, Macau, China.
  27. ^ a b c IEEE 802.3bs 200/400 Gb/s Ethernet (Standards Informant)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]