40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet: Can you get your hands on it?

One of the most frequent questions we receive about Ethernet lately is, "I see you have a 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium, but do you actually have any devices to test?" The answer is a qualified yes; while our test bed is small, it's growing every day and test reports are going out. However, it turns out that the most aggravating problems with 40 and 100 Gigabit devices are not related to conformance to the 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet standard, but to the availability of components such as optical modules and PHY silicon.

While test equipment, systems, optical modules, and other associated parts are ready for purchase from most of the major players in industry right now, they are still extremely limited in quantity. Limited quantity almost always leads to high prices, and 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet is no exception. In fact, some modules like 100G-LR4 CFPs are even hard for large manufacturers to get their hands on for internal qualifications.

What impact does limited availability have on the quality of the products? The good news is that the lack of available parts has only resulted in small problems, such as incorrect cable pin outs and suboptimal system settings. So it looks like 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet is coming out to a strong start, but the future of the standard's widespread industry adoption remains to be seen as more parts come to market.

Jeff Lapak, Ethernet Manager