Q

The future of 10GbE

Carrie Higbie answers a series of questions about 10GbE.

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I needed information and data points on the following topics:

Today what is 10GbE card used for?

10G today is predominantly fiber although some CX4 applications are out there. The most common applications are in the data center. But as we all know, today's servers become tomorrows desktops. There are areas where 10G to the desktop is being used. To name a few, research facilities, government facilities performing simulations, and there will certainly be more to come.

What do you see the future for 10GbE?

The second half of Moore's law that most people don't know is that the cost to make a faster chip is cut in half in 18 months. On the copper side, the chip will autonegotiate between 10/100/1G/10G - so when the chip is in mass production you will start to see more and more available in desktop boxes.

What do you think is an acceptable price point for this card (just a guesstimate)? Today it is very expensive as compared to the regular 1GbE cards. It is almost 10 times the price.

The standard target is 10x the performance at 3x the cost for copper - over the cost of a gigabit port. On the fiber side, you are right, it is about 10x the cost of a gig port. Also on the fiber side, there is no autonegotiation.

Which applications and where do you see the usage of this card?

As stated above, mostly in the data center, with backbone applications coming in next. If you run gig to the desktop which many companies are now doing, you will need a higher speed backbone. With data centers becoming more redundant the need for speed is apparent when you now need not only one copy but two. Many data centers are moving to disk based backup for speed and live redundancy that does not require a sequential backup to restore. Other applications will surely follow. As we have not had this kind of bandwidth available and not all operating systems can fill a gig pipe, new applications that take advantage of this kind of throughput have not been readily available. But now that it is, there is no telling what they will think of next! I would expect medicine, companies that manipulate large graphics files, CAD/CAM/CAE, research facilities and of course the data center will be first.

Which target market (vertical industry as well as horizontal industry) - Telco, server consolidation, partitioning etc?

See above.

Do you think that a 10GbE card can be used as a core I/O card on a server - maybe on high end servers (e.g. UNIX, Intel)? Or do you think customers would continue to use 1GbE card as a core I/O?

Absolutely. Think of mirroring two servers with large data stores or even storage area networks and network attached storage devices. All could benefit from the throughput - of course this will depend on company size and storage requirements, but I read a study that said the average storage is 115 Terabytes for companies with 1 billion in revenue.

What is a core I/O card and what is it used for by the customers in the datacenters?

That also will depend on the customer and what core components they will use. Right now, the core cards are used for server mirroring and pipes to storage.

Check out the whitepaper "Cabling Lifecycles and the Laws of Networking Communications" here: http://www.siemon.com/us/white_papers/04-03-01_cabling-life.asp

This was first published in July 2005

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