Spirent ships test kit for 400 and 800Gbps Ethernet

Expansion of 5G plus 4k and 8k video help drive ever-higher networking tech speeds

Spirent Communications has announced availability of new test appliances for high-speed Ethernet networks, including what the firm claims is the industry's first 800G test platform.

The new platforms comprise the Spirent A1 400G Appliance, B1 800G Appliance, and B2 800G Appliance, which target 400Gbps and 800Gbps Ethernet networks respectively.

Spirent said the appliances will help in the design and development of new high-speed Ethernet, and enable providers to ensure their 400G infrastructure is up to the challenge of today's data growth needs, while preparing 800G to be the future "cloud backbone."

Adoption of 400Gbps Ethernet is on the rise in the data centre, with Crehan Research predicting last year that shipments of 400Gb/s Ethernet data centre switch ports would hit 10 million by the end of 2021. This reflects the fact that network bandwidth requirements continue to grow at a rapid pace, and service providers and enterprise data centres alike need equipment able to validate the next generation of routers and other infrastructure, according to Spirent.

"Spirent continues to be the industry's trailblazer for Ethernet validation, bringing new test solutions to market first so that the Ethernet infrastructure ecosystem and service providers are able to keep moving forward to meet the insatiable demands for performance and capacity," Spirent's VP of Cloud and IP Product Management, Aniket Khosla, said in a statement.

The A1 400G Appliance is a 2U rack-mount enclosure with 16 Ethernet ports supporting the QSFP-DD transceiver format. It can be configured to provide 400/200/100/50 GbE per port using PAM4 encoding or 200/100/50/40/25/10 GbE per port using NRZ encoding.

But Spirent also claims the industry is preparing for 800G to accommodate the expansion of 5G, the growth of 4k and 8k video, and other services that drive demanding performance requirements. Data centre operators need to be able to test the viability of high-speed Ethernet solutions today to make sure they are ready as they begin to take over from 400G, it said.

To this end, it has made available its 800G test platform, comprising two appliances. The B1 800G Appliance ships in a 1U enclosure in 2-port and 4-port versions, also supporting QSFP-DD transceivers and enabling 8x50GbE, 4x200GbE, 2x400GbE, 8x100GbE PAM4 modes for IEEE 802.3ck.

The B2 800G Appliance is another 2U enclosure with four ports supporting QSFP-DD800 transceivers and provides 1x800G in addition to 2x400G, 4x200G, and 8x100G PAM4 modes in line with Ethernet Technology Consortium 800GBASE-R.

All three appliances have the ability to validate the data plane quality of service on thousands of flows at line rate, as well as testing complex routing and access protocols on switches and routers.

They can also validate the forwarding performance, latency, MAC capacity, and functional capabilities of multi-terabit cloud data centre fabrics, and test the latest generation of core routers with high-scale, multiprotocol topologies, according to Spirent.

When it comes to adoption of high-speed Ethernet, Arista Networks has indicated it expects the next upgrade cycle for 800G to start around 2023.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley tech conference this week, CFO Ita Brennan said that the economics meant the industry may see 800Gbps sooner than expected.

"What's been interesting about the 400Gbps cycle is obviously the underlying silicon has been used to build 100, 200, and 400Gbps products, right? So there's a slew of products that are being deployed kind of leveraging that.

"400Gb/s configurations have tended to be more data centre interconnect and some specific use cases, while 200 and 100 will be more broadly deployed inside the data centre, but we're definitely seeing that cycle drive some increased investment. I think we're at the beginnings of that cycle. So we'll see 800Gbps will bring probably better economics again on a per port cost. So at some point, it will make sense to deploy that inside the data centre." ®

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