By Dave Simpson
With a goal of keeping up with throughput advances in the Ethernet market, Fibre Channel vendors are drawing up a roadmap for 10Gbps speeds. Most Fibre Channel implementations currently operate at 1Gbps, although a number of vendors have shipped 2Gbps products. The 2Gbps technology is expected to gain end-user acceptance around the middle of next year.
Staying on track with 10Gbps Ethernet development would enable the Fibre Channel community to take advantage of economies of scale and lower costs associated with leveraging common products, such as cables and transceivers (including optical diodes, serializer/deserializers, etc.).
The IEEE is working on definitions for 10Gbps standards (which will be applicable to Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and InfiniBand) and is expected to finalize those specifications next year.
"I believe the 10Gbps Fibre Channel market will develop earlier than the 10Gbps Ethernet market," predicts Skip Jones, chairman of the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA). Jones expects 10Gbps Fibre Channel products to begin shipping in 2002, with end-user adoption beginning in 2003 or 2004.
Although Fibre Channel network component vendors plan to move directly from 2Gbps to 10Gbps, disk-drive manufacturers are expected to go from 2Gbps to 4Gbps, due mainly to cost considerations. The 4Gbps disk-drive parts will most likely be implemented in CMOS.
Meanwhile, standardization of 10Gbps Ethernet is experiencing growing pains. Nevertheless, because of the demands of applications such as virtual private networks, IP telephony, and e-commerce, analysts are predicting a fairly fast ramp up for the new technology.
For example, the Cahners In-Stat Group, in Scottsdale, AZ, predicts that 10Gbps Ethernet will account for 17% of combined 1Gbps Ethernet and 10Gbps Ethernet revenue by 2004. That combined market is expected to exceed $24 billion by 2004, assuming a compound annual growth rate of more than 55%.