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Same pipe, more data

What data rates of 10Gbit/s and beyond, is copper getting to the end of the road? By Vanessa Knivett.

As data rates increase, manufacturers at each element of the signal chain must react to meet new requirements – and cabling manufacturers are no different.
“Cable technology has had to move forward considerably in the last few years”, says Eric Gaver, global business leader for advanced digital interconnect at WL Gore. “Demand for high speed capabilities has predominantly been fuelled by data centres, where there has been a move towards modular, ‘pay as you grow’ computer hardware.”
Trends that have played into creating this demand, explains Gaver, include multicore processing, open source platforms like Linux and the introduction of standards based hardware and software.
Modern interconnects, such as Infiniband and 10gigabit Ethernet (10GE), have made such high speed applications possible. Infiniband was quick to make inroads into high performance computing. With line rates of 2.5Gbit/s per channel, single data rate Infiniband was quickly followed by double data rate. “Quad (QDR) solutions at 10Gbit/s will be shipping before the end of this year,” said Gaver, “and there’s an expectation of 80Gbit/s if things continue to scale like this.”
Meanwhile, Ethernet is developing just as quickly – 10GE was published as a standard in 2002. Gaver recounts: “The Ethernet Alliance has just configured a 40Gbit/s solution which will use QSFP – four channels at 10Gbit/s. And, 100Gbit/s will be out there in time … it’s a breakneck development pace.”

Vanessa Knivett

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