UNH-IOL capitalizes on data center growth with 25G Ethernet testing service suite

Ethernet cables in on premise equipment

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) has begun offering 25 Gbps Ethernet Testing at its facility in Durham, New Hampshire, targeting equipment vendors that are selling to data center providers and service providers that are using higher network speeds to support cloud-based services.

While 10G is still a dominant network speed, Ethernet technology is migrating to 25 Gbps per lane to take on current silicon and system design. What makes 25 Gbps compelling is that it is available at a lower cost than existing 40G Ethernet technologies.

Earlier this year, UNH-IOL hosted a 25/50G Consortium interoperability testing event to showcase interoperability of 25G and 50G Ethernet devices. With a total of 21 participating companies from across the Ethernet ecosystem, the plugfest provided a neutral testing environment which aided in fostering multi-vendor interoperability and united diverse industry constituencies.

Offered as part of the 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium, UNH-IOL’s 25G Ethernet Testing Services evaluate a product’s market viability. Besides confirming interoperability and electrical validation of systems and modules, the services will confirm auto-negotiation (ANEG) to ensure connected devices choose common transmission parameters. ANEG will become more important as new and higher speeds are created.

Jeffrey Lapak, UNH-IOL enterprise industry and operations strategic manager, told FierceTelecom that the new service will help vendors dig deeper into issues like ANEG, which came up during the Ethernet Consortium’s plug fests.

“There are some specific issues we have uncovered in the last couple of events centered on auto negotiation, which is the handshaking between devices as they establish a link,” Lapak said. “We have some unique capabilities to debug and enhance what they’re doing in that space.”

Lapak added that ANEG is not only important to current 25 Gbps products, but also future 100, 200 and 400G products.

“ANEG is critical to 25 Gbps from the perspective as future speeds like 50G, 200G and 400G come out,” Lapak said. “That’s still going to be the same backbone and is still going to be important for folks to get it right now so those future technologies are also capable of working out of the gate.”

In addition to ANEG, UNH-IOL’s testing regime will also support the current 25G standard set by the 25/50G consortium and the IEEE.

“Both standards use a slightly different version of ANEG,” Lapak said. “Even when you say 25G there’s two slightly tweaked flavors out there so that complicates all of the testing that relies on those things.”

Interest in 25 Gbps has continued to grow, particularly for data center applications.

Dell’Oro Group has forecast 25 Gbps speeds to drive the second highest server Ethernet port sales and shipments by 2018. Overall server network ports are expected to exceed $1.7 billion in revenue and 40 million ports by 2018.

Lapak said that the data center is one of the largest drivers for 25 Gbps and the need for a more comprehensive testing regime in that it allows another speed option besides 40 Gbps.

“Similar to the evolution of 10-40 Gbps, the evolution from went backwards from 100 to 25 Gbps is very powerful from the switch fabric perspective and it’s maximizing the usage of a switch fabric on a per-lane basis,” Lapak said. “Currently, the next step down from 100G was 40 Gbps, which creates a huge gap, but by allowing the MAC rate to run at 25G independently per lane you can use that same port and go from a top of rack switch to four servers.”

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