The conversation about exascale often focuses on the computation and on building an exaFLOPS computer. But the data created by and used within those computations has to get in and out of whatever computers we end up building, and today’s networks are not up to that challenge.
In late June the IEEE Standards Association announced the ratification of the new IEEE 802.3ba standard which includes both 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s Ethernet (interestingly, the first standard to specify two Ethernet speeds). The standard is transportable over both copper and optical networks.
In a statement released by the IEEE John D’Ambrosia, chair of the IEEE P802.3ba Task Force, pointed to increasing demands inside the datacenter brought on by the growing adoption of media-rich social networking applications. “As mass-market access to these technologies continues accelerating, coupled with today’s progressively more powerful server architectures, data centers, network providers and end-users alike are finding themselves confronted by pressing bandwidth bottlenecks,” he said. “IEEE 802.3ba will eliminate these bottlenecks by providing a robust, scalable architecture for meeting current bandwidth requirements and laying a solid foundation for future Ethernet speed increases.” Companies from Google to AT&T anticipate that the technology will be influential in commercial datacenter and network design.