The History and the Future of Ethernet Speeds (40GE and beyond)

Jun 19, 2014

2014-06-19 Ethernet.jpgWhen Ethernet was invented by Bob Metcalfe and his colleagues at the Xerox Research Center in Palo Alto in the mid-1970s, 40GE Ethernet probably seemed like the stuff of science fiction. At the time, 3Mbps was considered a “convenient data transfer rate,” but soon, Xerox joined forces with Digital and Intel to develop a multi-vendor 10Mbps, and by 1995, 100Mbps Ethernet was released. Today, that seems archaic and certainly insufficient for all we need to do. What should your business expect from an Ethernet speed today?

Since the 10 Gig Ethernet (10gb Ethernet, or 10GE) was defined in 2002, it has slowly become the standard. Part of the slow roll out was due to technical issues, because the cost of a 10GE infrastructure was prohibitive, particularly for small businesses. Then, too, the speed was considered by some to be unnecessary. In fact, an article published on in 2011 refers to 10gb Ethernet as “ludicrous speed”. Still, as technology pushes further, what seemed ambitious in the past merely becomes adequate, and costs adjust too: it’s now possible to find a 10gb Ethernet switch that’s affordable for even a small business. With the growing technology, however, there’s a push to still higher speeds.

Today, the most efficient solution for most businesses is 40GE. While 100GE has been the goal for many tech companies, 40GE is a more practical solution, having both design flexibility and a lower cost than 100GE. For example, 40GE requires 12 fibers, as compared to the 24 needed for 100GE. Yet, 40GE allows companies to maintain the competitive edge with the ability to increase bandwidth to keep up with a higher demand.

What’s next? 400GE Ethernet? 1000GE? Neither is particularly far-fetched, with 400GE poised to hit the market in 2016. Whatever your business requires, whether it’s 40GE or 4000GE, you can be confident UNICOM Engineering will lead the way. To keep your company ahead of the crowd, across the globe, contact UNICOM Engineering at 800-977-1010 or To learn more, visit UNICOM Engineering.

Category: System Integration