400GbE to drive majority of switch bandwidth within 5 years

400GbE to drive majority of switch bandwidth within 5 years

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The era of 400Gbps Ethernet is set to arrive in the data centre market sooner rather than later, with this technology expected to underpin the majority of data centre Ethernet switch bandwidth by 2022.

This is according to new figures from Crehan Research, which forecasts that, following initial shipments this year, the market for 400Gb Ethernet switches will grow exponentially over the next five years.

It estimated that 400Gb solutions will account for around 60 per cent of total market bandwidth by 2022, by which time nearly six million ports will have been shipped.

Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research, stated that the market is currently entering a "new era" of much faster data centre switch upgrades. This is already being seen with 100Gb Ethernet systems, and the expectation is that 400Gb devices will continue the trend in the coming years.

When it comes to 100Gb Ethernet devices, for instance, the pace of change has already been significant. Crehan Research found that shipments of 100Gb devices are expected to surpass those of 40Gb alternatives this year - just three years after the introduction of the first high-density 100GbE data centre switch systems.

A similar trajectory is expected with 400Gb hardware. Mr Crehan stated: "With its expected market-leading price per gigabit and no foreseeable shortage of demand for higher-speed networking capacity in cloud data centres, 400Gb Ethernet should surpass a million ports shipped in less time than it took 100GbE to reach that threshold."

In their initial year of shipments, 400Gb Ethernet switches will prove attractive to buyers due to the fact they will offer a bandwidth discount over lower speed switches, the research continued. In the coming years, the technology will be further boosted by the arrival of 100G-PAM4 SerDes.

This is likely to occur around the 2020 timeframe and will reduce the number of lanes required to achieve 400GbE by half – from eight 50Gb lanes to four 100Gb ones. The result of this will be to lower both the costs and power requirements of these data centre switches.

Crehan's research also forecast that the overall market average selling price per port for data centre switching solutions will remain relatively stable in the coming years, thanks mainly to the widespread adoption of higher-speed switches.

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