Traditionally, IO interface roadmaps have stayed their own predictable path and stayed separate from each other for several generations and many years. After the converged Camelot of many 10G interfaces and links, many IO roadmaps are radically changing data rate progression and are often converging and competing with several other IO communities’ next generation standards.
The InfiniBand Trade Association formally introduced their new IO interface roadmap just a few weeks ago and it is quite different from their last revision. The older one had progressed predictability uniform from 2.5G to 5G to 10G data rates which have been implemented thru standards, plugfests and products. But now the next logical data rates of 20G and 40G per pair have disappeared off the new roadmap revision.
14G per pair is now the next generation of InfiniBand and this association is planning for it and their concurrently new 25/28G per pair generation to be both released in 2011. They use the acronyms, HDR and NDR without any date rate number as the two undefined placeholders in their roadmap’s fuzzy “Market Demand 2014” space. I never saw a high speed interface coming out with two data rates platforms at the same time and having no defined next generation data rates or dates going ahead. It seems they are trying to stay a little ahead of Ethernet’s progression, but ready to converge opportunistically.
InfiniBand also recently expanded its architecture by have 1x lane and 8x lane added to the already 4x and 12x lane options as PCI Express already has. PCI-Express also has 16x and 32x lane options.
FibreChannel Industry Association and the T11 standards group are just about to release their 16G SFP+ single lane interface and are starting to develop a new 32G optical single lane interface The leading FibreChannel 16G spec has been partially borrowed by the new InfiniBand FDR 14G standard group and allegedly, the newer PCI-E 3.0 16G standards group. The FCIA is working on a new roadmap revision due to come out soon and is alleged to go beyond 64G, 100G as single links and aggregated to a 1 Terabit SAN link. Looks like no more Hard Disk Drives at FC 32G, no more Hard Disk Controller Blades and no more Copper SFP cables, just optical SAN switch links and software per FCIA.
FibreChannel 16G and SAS 12G interfaces may be merged into one chip and will likely be used with converged next generation FC/SAS SSDs, (Solid State Drives) which are mounted on blades or modules. FibreChannel and Ethernet 10G interfaces are sometimes merged into one chip with two SFP+ ports and support converged LAN/SAN systems. So one wonders if there will be Unified SFP+ 16G and or SFP+ 28G link next generation Unified systems.
OIF group is leading and co-working thru liaisons on 25/28/32G per lane converged electrical and optical interfaces with FCIA, IBTA and IEEE802.3 groups. OIF is especially focused on a four lane QSFP++ proposal. This supports 4x25G IB server and 4x 28G FC SAN and Ethernet switch links. OIF also has been working on a 40G per lane specification. It is alleged that if PCI-E still exists a couple of years from now and is not replaced by the very new LightPeak interface, it would likely use the OIF/FC 28/32G electrical spec partially for a nascent PCI-E 5.0
Ethernet IEEE-802.3bg 40G optical single lane link specification development is moving right along and is allegedly looking to expand beyond the long reach applications. It appears that the Call of Interest for a new 4x25G=100 electrical spec and QSFP+ copper and active optical PMD will occur at the November 2010 plenary meeting. Ethernet Alliance business leaders are planning to talk about a new roadmap at the October meeting that may include 400G and 1T interfaces. So much for the Ethernet older orderly by ten data rate progress that did 10Mbs, 100Mbs, 1000Mbs 10Gbs …
SAS Trade Association and NCITS-T10 storage community are working on their new 4x12G spec for 2012 release. Some early work is being done on their subsequent 24G per lane spec. The 6-12G HD-MiniSAS connector does not work at 24G. So there is talk about borrowing the soon to be chosen QSFP++25/28G connector for inclusion in the developing SAS 3.0 spec as some OEMs seem to have a preference for using it for 12-24G designed ports in very large storage systems, especially for petascale and exascale DataCenters.
CameraLink2, RapidIO, Myrinet and many other IO standards are still following with a year or two lag using FC/IB/Ethernet specifications and media options especially QSFP+ AOC.
Although HDMI 3.0, USB 4.0 (25G?), DisplayPort 3.0 standards are said to be developing, the looming Lightpeak 1.0 and 2.0 optical specifications/products may come sooner and supplant those three IOs and maybe CameraLink, PCI-E and FireWire 1394. It would be amazing to see Commodity IO 25G interfaces taking over the lead from High End IO 25G interfaces in a 2013 convergence/collision. Maybe this would be facilitated thru the acceptance of high volume commodity Intel Atom and various ARM microprocessors building blocks being used potentially in some of the largest categories of DataCenter systems that are lowest power and highest density focused.
Has the Great Recession had an impact on acceleration of standards and IO interface convergence? Combined standards/technology resources, fuzzy roadmaps, non-interoperable Unified architectures and lots of co-opetition may be thought as side effects of this recession.
As on the waterways, highways and flyways of the world, there are many more speed options, topologies, lanes and links than ever before. Connecting electronic equipment with these new IO interfaces is supporting the exploding internet universe that is being driven by virtualization and video and LAN/SAN convergence factors.