The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) on Thursday unveiled a new Ethernet testing capability designed to help address optical and electrical conformance testing of up to 400 Gbit/s in the new IEEE 802.3bs and IEEE 802.3cd specifications.
These specs and UNH-IOL's testing primarily focus on the industry's move to PAM4, a new signaling scheme created to address the market's insatiable need for more bandwidth. This hunger for bandwidth has generated an influx of fiber and optical testing, likely related in part to 5G fiber densification initiatives, Internet of Things deployments within homes and cities, and service providers' growing fiber budgets, Mike Klempa, UNH-IOL Ethernet and Storage technical manager, told Broadband World News. (See The State of the Optical & DCI Industry 2018.)
"Unrelenting bandwidth growth everywhere and the need for scalability, forces the need for an Ethernet speed greater than 100Gb for switch connections. The scope of the demand encompasses Internet and cloud applications as well as server virtualization and converged networking," said Klempa. "The industry is making a shift to new signalling types to meet the increased data rates (the first IEEE 802.3 defined 50Gb/s MAC rate). This requires a whole new set of test and measurement ideologies and equipment."
Some of this new gear includes Bit Error Rate Testers (BERTs), which perform both optical and electrical stressed receiver tests of conformance for 50, 100, 200 and 500 Gbp/s Ethernet specs. UNH-IOL plans to expand into interoperability testing as vendors move higher speed Ethernet products into development, then sale to operators and other customers.
"This equipment needs to be precise down to the femtosecond for these cases," Klempa said. "Our capabilities don’t end there though. We use our expertise of these standards to automate the process of the calibration and run through the convoluted channel and reference transmitter requirements."
In addition to helping customers, these new testing and measurement capabilities genertate enthusiasm among university students -- the upcoming engineers and developers who will create the next generation of networks and components, he noted.
"The UNH-IOL's mission is to be on the forefront of the industry trends, and this is a big one to be a part of. It’s also eye opening for the students working here," said Klempa. "They are very familiar with Ethernet and the typical 1G ports on their laptops; for them to see and directly work with devices that are this cutting edge gives them a look into the future and gets them excited about the industry as a whole."
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