Ethernet Won’t Get Out of the Fast Lane

By Amy Goetzman | March 26, 2024

A raft of new 800 Gigabit Ethernet interconnects are helping our favorite networking cable reach ever higher speeds to support AI, machine learning, and the next frontier of high-speed computing.


Ethernet has been the backbone of computing since the 1980s due to its exceptional versatility, reliability, backward compatibility, and continuous and exponential improvements in performance. Ethernet’s data transfer rates were first defined in the 1983 IEEE 802.3 standard at 2.94 Mbit/s across a simple coaxial cable. It’s now handling speeds of up to 800 Gbit/s with today’s sophisticated networks comprised of switches, routers, interconnects, and interfaces including OSFP, QSFP-DD, QSFP, and SFP pluggable form factors. The Ethernet Alliance’s new roadmap for the future evolution of Ethernet shows speeds rapidly heading towards 1.6 Tbit/s — that is to say, fasten your seatbelts.

As AI workloads and high-speed data infrastructure expand, the data center interconnects that support these intensive computing processes must keep pace. Evolving Ethernet standards will help drive bandwidth and data connectivity of next generation networks. Practical and implementable standards to ensure multi-vendor interoperability for 800GbE is expected in 2024 and 1.6TbE by 2025.  “As the need for enhanced processing power and data capacity surges, Ethernet’s signature dependability and seamless interoperability are redrawing the boundaries of technology innovation,” said Peter Jones, chair, Ethernet Alliance, the global consortium of system and component vendors behind the technology’s decades of innovation. “With a seemingly endless capacity for adaptation, it effortlessly handles diverse workloads ranging from enterprise and home wired connectivity, to hyperscale artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications.”

This week at OFC 2024, the Ethernet Alliance will provide a glimpse into the future in a demo that includes components from Amphenol Communication Solutions and TE Connectivity and shows the latest in Linear Pluggable Optics (LPO) that will help extend the reach and capacity of Ethernet networks by enabling high-speed optical connectivity between devices while maintaining compatibility with Ethernet standards and protocols. Other exhibits describe Test & Measurement solutions, including physical layer and traffic generation tools, that further expand Ethernet’s capacity.


“As a founding principal member of the Ethernet Alliance, TE is proud to provide our highest speed passive and active electrical and optical connectivity products in the Ethernet Alliance physical interoperability demonstrations. Current Ethernet deployments deliver data rates of 800 Gb/s, and in the near future, aim for 1.6 Tb/s,” said Nathan Tracy, principal technologist, system architecture team, TE Connectivity. “These roadmaps depend on organizations such as the Ethernet Alliance to bring together the ecosystem to address the technical challenges of delivering robust interoperable solutions.”

“As one of the world’s leading suppliers of optics, LP’s, AOCs, and award-winning DACs, Amphenol is joining with twenty other Ethernet manufacturers in a live demonstration showcasing how Ethernet is changing the world with cutting edge technology and interoperability,” said Chris Lyon, cloud business development manager, Amphenol Communication Solutions, and president, Ethernet Alliance.

Also debuting at OFC, the 2024 edition of the Ethernet Alliance Ethernet Roadmap

Also debuting at OFC, the 2024 edition of the Ethernet Alliance Ethernet Roadmap addresses the latest developments in AI/ML, Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN), sustainability goals, and the full spectrum of current Ethernet speeds from 1 GbE to 800 GbE. The Ethernet Roadmap covers the pressing issue of sustainability and related developments over the last decade. Charting a Bold Future: the 2024 Ethernet Roadmap can also be seen at the Ethernet Alliance blog.

To learn more about the companies mentioned in this article, visit the Preferred Supplier pages for Amphenol Communications Solutions and TE Connectivity.

Like this article? Check out our other articles on High-Speed, Ethernet, and our Wire and Cable Assemblies Market Page, and our 2023 and 2024 Article Archive

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Amy Goetzman
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