800GE IP routing explained
Although the origin and evolution of the Internet goes much further back in time, its official birth date is 1st January, 1983. Since then, what started off as a simple communications protocol called Transfer Control Protocol/Internetwork Protocol (TCP/IP) which enabled computers on different networks to "talk" to each other, has today matured into an all-encompassing connectivity fabric that binds the world together. Be it work or leisure, the Internet is an omnipresent entity, undeniably interwoven with all that we do.
Now, as the digital world is embracing Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), the metaverse, blockchain, 5G and even 6G, network operators are bracing for an exponential rise in data traffic. According to Equinix's most recent Global Interconnection Index, global interconnection bandwidth is expected to grow at a 40 percent five-year CAGR, reaching 27,762 TB/sec - corresponding to 110 zettabytes of data exchanged annually.
To keep pace with the mounting demand, communication service providers (CSPs), Internet exchange providers, colocation providers, cloud providers and enterprises require state-of-the-art IP routed networks that can support vast scale, robust security, real-time automation while being cost-efficient and sustainable.
With the data floodgates opening, operators will have to find ways to process more bits at lower cost. Unfortunately, the current crop of interconnection networks that are using 100G and 400G links are not only more expensive but difficult to scale as well.
Scaling up with 800GE routing
The answer lies in 800GE routing that will empower emerging cloud infrastructure providers to upgrade router interfaces to 800 Gb/s. Based on Nokia's fifth generation of high-performance IP routing silicon, the FP5, this latest IP network technology leverages the most recent QSFP-DD interface module specifications to support high-density 800GE pluggable optics with backwards compatibility for existing 400GE, 200GE and 100GE optics.
As increasing silicon integration allows for the assimilation of more compact and energy-efficient routing equipment, the interface optics needed to transmit IP packets over fiber networks take up a much greater slice of the total space and power. 800GE optics cuts down the share by using less power per bit than transmitting an equivalent traffic volume over multiple links equipped with 400GE optics.
"800GE routing permits us to move more bits using less energy. Leveraging more power efficient routing silicon and optics allows the IP network to become faster and scale capacity in the existing energy and space footprint, instead of bigger by doubling up on connections and associated interface ports," says Arnold Jansen, Senior Marketing Manager at Nokia's Network Infrastructure.
800GE brings to the table a plethora of benefits.
Superior traffic capacity: It offers a two to eight-fold jump in link capacity compared to 400GE and 100GE networks. Apart from more space for traffic peaks and demand growth, the management of far more efficient and fewer link operators help bring down network complexity and cost.
Space efficient: 800GE routing effectively doubles interface capacity and connectivity in the same rack space. A single line card can support up to 36 QSFP-DD ports with 800GE, 400GE or 100GE pluggable optics, or connect to two 400GE or up to eight 100GE ports with an optical breakout panel.
Low energy consumption: 800GE optics is significantly more energy efficient than transporting an equivalent volume of traffic using multiple 400GE or 100GE links. It consumes between 20 and 40 percent less energy per gigabit of traffic. Expanding network capacity while reducing carbon emissions is at the core of the new solution.
The building blocks
800GE optics requires routing silicon on interface modules (line cards) and switch fabric modules to support faster electrical signalling rates of 112 Gb/s. Chassis design practices, power and cooling are potentially impacted as well to meet increased thermal performance requirements.
Innovation in silicon is also critical for putting in place high-capacity IP networks. Nokia's new FP5 routing silicon is key to unlocking the full benefits of 800GE optics. Delivering up to four times more capacity in the same space and power envelope as the current FP4 hardware, it enables operators to scale IP network capacity for years without increasing their resource footprint. The 7750 SR-s routers powered by FP5 silicon offer best in class scalability and efficiency for both IP edge and core routing applications, with deterministic performance guarantees for premium and mission-critical services.
Why consider 800GE routing now
A colossal data deluge is on its way as digitalization accelerates and anticipating and assessing its potential impact would make or break the operating environment for businesses. While many of them are still transitioning from 100 to 400 Gb/s speeds, legacy infrastructures are already struggling to manage the burgeoning traffic. Besides costing more money and space, investments in 100GE and 400GE routers that cannot be enhanced to 800GE will lead to a more complicated and unwieldy transition at a later stage. It risks higher write-off on capital investments as opposed to a one-off capital expense to modernize IP routing platforms. Add to it the robust sustainability credentials it would bring on board.
Leading industry players, having gauged the merits of 800GE routing, are already deploying the technology for commercial applications. They include DE-CIX, Europe's largest internet exchange, British Telecom, the London Internet Exchange, NL-ix, a distributed internet exchange provider, telecommunications group, Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and data center provider, OpenColo in California, USA.
A future-proof solution
There is irrefutable evidence of data traffic ramping up at an overwhelming rate. The upward trajectory is only going to get steeper as a technology-hungry world firmly sets its sight on total digitalization. Voices demanding greater bandwidth will only get louder and operators will need to build robust capacity and better efficiency to scale their networks while keeping thermal footprint to a minimum. Ultimately, every IP network operator will have to adopt 800GE routing for the biggest links at the edge and core of their networks.
"800GE will be the next currency for high-speed router interconnect. That is a foregone conclusion. In the next four to five years, I expect that 800GE routing will supplant all applications that currently use 400GE optics. It is the only option if operators wish to achieve sustainable growth," says Jansen.
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