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What Ethernet standards can be used with QSFP28?

The fact that 40 GB Ethernet is slowly being replaced by the 100 GB is undeniable. From day to day more and more leading IT and telecommunications vendors are trying to seize the opportunity to launch their own 100 GB Ethernet solutions. 100 GB Ethernet is the latest technology which provides a stable ground for future high bandwidth requiring applications.

100 GB Ethernet is defined by the IEEE 802.ba standard which requires Ethernet frames to be transmitted at 100 gigabits per second. The 100 GB Ethernet modules are standardized by the Multiple Source Agreement (MSA). There is a reason why the 100 GB Ethernet is preferred in the networking world. The growth in traffic volume over the past couple of years has increased dramatically. The development of new devices like mobile phones, centralized enterprise desktops and cloud solutions are putting pressure in Datacenters for more bandwidth and stability. Another key reason for the development of 100 GB Ethernet are the Virtualization solutions. In the past the most common solution was the, so called, client-server solution where a client is making requests from a server inside the Datacenter and the server replies. This model formed the 3 tier networks made of core, aggregation and access layers. However today, most of the traffic inside the Datacenter is divided by categories: applications, storage and databases. These three categories generate traffic across the Datacenter.

Many major network suppliers started manufacturing 100 GB Ethernet devices and components. These devices are mainly aimed at Service Providers and Cloud Providers. However, as expected this is not a cheap solution.

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Just as 40 GB Ethernet is using QSFP+ transceivers with four lanes of 10GB/s, the 100 GB Ethernet operates with four lanes of 25 GB/s in a QSFP28 module. This is possible because of the upgraded electrical interface of the QSFP28 compared to QSFP+. Because of this it has become as easy to deploy a 100 GB Ethernet as deploying 10 GB Ethernet. Compared to other 100 GB supporting modules, QSFP28 provides the higher density and lower power consumption which makes it attractive to network architects. The QSFP28 optical transceiver has several advantages:

  • Increased front panel density compared to QSFP+ transceiver
  • Increased lane speeds from 10 GB/s to 25 GB/s
  • Available with VCELS or silicon photonics for longer reach
  • With the help of silicon photonics Datacenters can reach more than 2 kilometers on Single-mode fibers

For distance greater than 2 kilometers the 100GBASE-LR4 and 100GBASE-ER4 standards have been developed. They are specifically designed for maximum performance in long haul applications.