Thursday, March 29, 2007

10 Gigabit Ethernet "Crossover"

I just saw this article comparing Fibre Channel, 10Gb Ethernet, and InfiniBand, and I thought it was interesting.

It points out information from the Dell'Oro consulting firm showing Gigabit Ethernet ports first outshipped Fast Ethernet ports in 2004, some seven years after GigE was introduced, and five years after the 1000BASE-T spec was introduced in 1999. (There is a good article here on the 1000BASE-T PHY.)

So if it took five years from the 1000Base-T release until 1000BASE-T ports exceeded 100BASE-T ports, despite backwards compatibility.

"Crossover", as this point is known, is very important in for a new replacement technology. Once a new standard or product reaches crossover, the second half of market penetration typically occurs quickly. Backwards compatibility helps, but realize a compatible 100/1000BASE-T port does not mean a switch blade with 48 of those ports will be compatible with an older blade chassis. Also, the increased cost of the new technology causes some resistance.

Today, there is a much bigger challenge for 10GBASE-T: Power consumption. From the article on the 1000BASE-T PHY I linked to earlier:

"Because of the complexity of the signal-processing task, a 10/100/1000Base-T copper PHY is the dominant consumer of power in essentially all gigabit switch designs supporting copper media. First-generation 1000Base-T copper PHYs introduced in 1999 in 0.35-micron CMOS consumed well over 5 watts of power-too high for widespread use in high-density Gigabit Ethernet switch form factors."
With 10GBASE-T, the power required is much higher. Chelsio's new 10GBASE-T NIC requires 24 watts of power, and can only drive a signal over 50 meters of the 100 meter distance of the 10GBASE-T spec. Now some of the NICs power is the supporting TCP Offload Engine (TOE) and other circuitry. But it is probably safe to say 15 watts for each 10GBASE-T switch or NIC port is currently required.

So while some say the promise of consolidated I/O will drive the transition from Gigabit Ethernet to 10 Gigabit Ethernet faster than the transition from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet, power consumption will likely slow this transition significantly.

So indeed the transition from Gigabit Ethernet to 10 Gigabit Ethernet may follow the transition from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet. In that case, if 1000BASE-T is a gauge, and the 10GBASE-T spec was just approved in 2006, it could take until 2011 before 10GBASE-T ports outnumber 1000BASE-T ports.

What is good about this is the software (iWARP, iSER, NFSoRDMA, pNFSoRDMA, etc.) and supporting networking protocols for this new generation of Ethernet will have plenty of time to catch up. This means once crossover does happen, it should have a very strong impact on the market.

Meanwhile, it appears there continues to be plenty of opportunity for Fibre Channel for storage and InfiniBand for low-latency IPC.

Related posts:
Predictions for the future of low-latency computing, it's not where you think it is
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Big Sky Theory

If you are over the Pacific Ocean halfway between Chile and New Zealand, and you get killed by a falling satellite, guess what? It's not your day.

But for these people, as the falling satellite missed them, the "Big Sky" theory continues to hold:

Space junk falls around airliner: report

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I wonder why Microsoft has not bought Adobe

Adobe, with its new Creative Suite 3, is all the buzz now. But PhotoShop is not what makes Adobe interesting. It is Adobe's ability to establish two of its formats (PDF and Flash) as defacto standards.

Microsoft loves defacto standards. And Microsoft hates the fact that Adobe owns THE web animation standard (which is becoming the streaming media standard), and Adobe owns THE print-formatted document standard.

Microsoft tried to create an alternative to PDF, but has had zero success, despite the fact most PDF's original documents are created in Microsoft Office applications.

Which begs the question. Microsoft has a market cap of about $275 billion, compared to Adobe's $25 billion. Why Microsoft has not attempted a takeover, hostile or otherwise, of Adobe, is beyond me.

Perhaps it is all the bad blood between Microsoft and Adobe in the past. Maybe it is Microsoft's failed acquisition of SoftImage in the 1990s. But we are in a new decade, make that a new millennium.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Economy is Booming

Don't pay attention to the Dow's recent correction. Just check vacancy rates of hotels, airline load factors, and rental car availability.

Every flight I have booked recently has been nearly full, forcing my employer to have to pay higher fares. I have also had serious problems finding vacancy in hotels, and have been forced to stay in hotels on the outskirts of town. And for my next trip, not only are those first two points a factor, but there are no rental cars available.

Granted the airlines have reduced flights. And perhaps rental car companies have reduced their fleets. But other than the Stardust Hotel in Vegas last night, I don't recall hotels being imploded to reduce capacity.

I don't remember air, rental car, and hotels being this tight since 1999 and 2000, in the peak of the dot-com era.

The airplane that refuses to die

The Boeing 767, that is.

This is an interesting article:

Boeing considering new 767 freighter to counter A330-200F

And an excellent complement at Randy's Blog here:

Year of the 767

Sidebar: Besides Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, Randy Baseler, Vice President of Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, is probably corporate America's highest ranking and best known blogger.

Boeing is considering enhancements to its 767-300 freighter to make it more competitive with the Airbus A330 freighter. Now the 767 is over a decade older than the A330, and the freighter variant of the A330 is a brand-new model of the A330, designed to replace the A300 freighter, itself almost a decade older than the 767.

But it is amazing the 767 is even able to challenge the A330. The A330 is larger, and can carry both more volume and weight. The A330's lower deck is wider, and can carry more and larger containers. That the 767 is still competitive against the larger A330 points to much deeper problems with Airbus. But it also points to a company, Boeing, which is a model of aggressive competitiveness.

The way I describe it is Boeing is able to play chess while simultaneously being involved in a street fight. Playing chess is Boeing accomplishing its strategic plans. The street fight is the daily tactical selling of what Boeing has "on the truck". The chess part is the future: The 787 and the deft move to offer the derivative 747-8. The street fight is today: The numerous 737 variants, the phenomenal 777, and now the possibility of an enhanced 767F. What is interesting is an enhanced 767F could eat into production capacity for the 787, which will be produced in the same Everett Washington facility.

I think Boeing will cross that bridge when they reach it. Today it is about winning.

There are many companies who could learn a thing or two from Boeing's commercial airplane division.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Anarchists Flock to Join Rioters

Shouldn't somebody have predicted this?

European anarchists flock to join rioters in Copenhagen

I originally saw this story in a local paper with a similar headline.

Of course, I personally don't believe anarchists "flock". A flock is far too organized for anarchists.

And do European anarchists live in Europe? It seems too organized for them. If anarchists like anarchy, it seems they would be more comfortable in a place in anarchy, maybe Lebanon, Somalia, or Iraq.