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Network Traffic To Swell By 2015, IEEE Pushing For Terabit Ethernet

Ever wonder why your computer or gaming console are taking longer download times sometimes? Due to perceived frustration over the diminishing speed of downloads this past few years, the IEEE has announced a new group that will upgrade current Ethernet speeds up to 1 Terabytes per second by 2015, and as fast as 10 Terabytes per second in 2020.

The revelation was made after the publication of the report of IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth, which showed that faster networks will be needed to support the capacity requirements by 2015 if the ongoing trends continue.

The report considered in its projections an analysis of 11 big data sources, including HPC facilities, data centers, and historical Ethernet usage by internet exchanges. The findings of the report shows the current rate of growth, the worldwide distribution of Ethernet link speeds that are predicted to turn on its head starting 2013.

In 2011, more or less 21 percent of all Ethernet links operated at 100 Megabytes per second, while 8 percent ran at 100 Gigabytes per second. The report projects that the figures will be reversed in 2013, with 100 Gbps Ethernet holding 21 percent of the market, while 100 Mbps Ethernet share shrinking to less than the share of 100 Gbps today.

Streaming media was noted to a major factor in the growth of worldwide bandwidth consumption. The report showed that as of January 2011, the amount of bandwidth consumed by streaming media had more than doubled compared to the previous year, affecting the performance of other form of network usage like peer to peer, web browsing, and other protocols.

Needless to say, the demand for high-speed Ethernet links among internet nodes has seen exponential growth. About 7 years ago, most internet service providers were using 100 Mbps links. In 2006, the demand for a Gigabit Ethernet ballooned and more than half of the global ISPs were since then using the Gigabit Ethernet. The following years saw the transition to 10 Gbps standard as the ISP growth began to steadily increase.

Data centers are also demanding 10 Gbps Ethernet and as of 2011, the report cited that 10 Gb Ethernet has accounted for about 17 percent of all server ports. The said figure will grow to 59 percent by 2014 as projected by the report.

However, the report also showed that the most aggressive growth in network bandwidth demand stems from the financial sector and High Performance Computing (HPC) for data-intensive sciences. As an example, the report showed how the Large Hadron Collider pushes for  15 petabytes or 15 million gigabytes of data per year to Tier 1 storage facilities around the world.

Also, high-frequency trading systems around the world being used by finance industry cannot tolerate lag, and thus demands transmission of uncompressed data translating to more bandwidth demand.

The need for a much faster Ethernet standard is a necessity based on the report. The new group will have its first meeting at the IEEE 802.3 Interim Meeting on September 24-28 in Geneva, Switzerland.