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April 24, 2008

Terabit Ethernet around 2015

Bob Metcalfe (ethernet coinventor) gave a keynote speech, "Toward Terabit Ethernet." Metcalfe had told his audience not only that optical networks would soon deliver 40- and 100-gigabit-­per-­second Ethernet--standards bodies are now hammering out the technical specifications--but also that 1,000-gigabyte-per-second Ethernet, which Metcalfe dubbed "terabit Ethernet," would emerge around 2015. The move from 100 gigabit ethernet to terabit ethernet could involve an overhaul of the backbone network. Technically feasible but who will pay the up-front costs for these next-­generation networks? In America, carriers own the pipes, and we don't really see much competition.

George Gilder presented an 'Exaflood' paper, in which he predicts a zettabyte of U.S. Internet traffic by the year 2015," ­Metcalfe said. "Since I admire Gilder, I extrapolated from his prediction."

An exabyte is 10**18 bytes of data; a zettabyte is 10**21 bytes. Metcalfe pointed to video, new mobile, and embedded systems as the factors driving this rising data flood: "Video is becoming the Internet's dominant traffic, and that's before high definition comes fully online. Mobile Internet just passed a billion new cell phones per year. Then totally new sources of traffic exist, like the 10 billion embedded microcontrollers now shipped annually."

Herwig Kogelnik indicated that current research had advanced WDM (wavelength division multi­plexing) technology to a point where economical transmission of 10 channels, each carrying 100-gigabyte-per-second traffic, was now feasible.

Components of the Exaflood

In the U.S. by 2015:

* movie downloads and P2P file sharing could be 100 exabytes
* video calling and virtual windows could generate 400 exabytes
* "cloud" computing and remote backup could total 50 exabytes
* Internet video, gaming, and virtual worlds could produce 200 exabytes
* non-Internet "IPTV" could reach 100 exabytes, and possibly much more
* business IP traffic will generate some 100 exabytes
* other applications (phone, Web, e-mail, photos, music) could be 50 exabytes

The U.S. Internet of 2015 will be at least 50 times larger than it was in 2006.


Part of the increase will be a move beyond regular high definition television

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