Consumers have gotten increasingly obsessed with streaming shows, movies and even games. And with Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Google and everyone else jumping on board it's clear the trend isn't going to stop. But on the server side of things, Ethernet connectivity is getting increasingly strained. Thankfully, the Ethernet Technology Consortium (ETC) is here to save the day with the new 800 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) specification [PDF (opens in new tab)].
Don't get too excited though. The specification announced Monday will be used by enterprises way before you're able to use it with your best desktop PC (opens in new tab). In fact, 10 GbE is still a notable cost undertaking for consumers. Instead, 800 GbE will target high-performance computing (HPC) and mainstream applications, such as remote AI processing, that will benefit from lower latency.
Formally called 800GBASE-R, the standard is primarily based on the existing 400 GbE logic, as this would ensure fewer changes are necessary to get the new standard up and running. But it also brings a new media access control (MAC) and Physical Coding Sublayer (PCS).
"It essentially re-purposes two sets of the existing 400GbE logic from the IEEE 802.3bs standard with a few modifications in order to distribute the data across eight 106 Gbps physical lanes," the ETC's announcement said. "As the PCS is reused, the standard RS(544, 514) forward error correction is retained, for simple compatibility with existing physical layer specifications."
Technically, it's even a little faster than 800 Gbps, as the data is distributed over eight individual 106 Gbps lanes.
“The intent with this work was to repurpose the standard 400 GbE logic as much as possible to create an 800 GbE MAC and PCS specification with minimal overhead cost to users implementing multi-rate Ethernet ports.” said Rob Stone, technical working group chair of the Ethernet Technology Consortium.
The new standard offers half the latency of the 400 GbE specification, which comes as a natural consequence of doubling the bandwidth. A
As a consumer, you shouldn't expect to notice much of an instant change thanks to the new standard, nor can you expect to see 800 Gigabit Ethernet in your home anytime in the foreseeable future.
The standard will roll out to new enterprise hardware over the coming years, and slowly but surely, we'll start to see further improvements in the services we consume.
Outgrowing the Old Name
The Ethernet Technology Consortium is a new brand name for the organization, which also made the name chance on Monday. The group was previously known as the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium -- a name that the group has clearly outgrown.
It said that after being made to create 25, 50 and 100 Gbps Ethernet specifications, it will now "focus on higher-speed Ethernet technologies."