The migration to 400G/800G: Part I

Planning to meet future data center challenges starts today. The Ethernet roadmap explained.

Across data centers the ground is shifting—again.

Accelerating adoption of cloud infrastructure and services is driving the need for more bandwidth, faster speeds and lower latency performance. Advancing switch and server technology are forcing changes in cabling and architectures. Regardless of your facility’s market or focus, you need to consider the changes in your enterprise or cloud architecture that will likely be necessary to support the new requirements. That means understanding the trends driving the adoption of cloud infrastructure and services, as well as the emerging infrastructure technologies that will enable your organization to address the new requirements. Here are a few things to think about as you plan for the future.

Ethernet roadmap
Figure 1: Ethernet roadmap
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Timing the move to 400G/800G

Just because you’re running at 40G or even 100G today, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. If the history of data center evolution has taught us anything, it’s that the rate of change—whether it’s bandwidth, fiber density or lane speeds—accelerates exponentially. The transition to 400G is closer than you think. Not sure? Add up the number of 10G (or faster) ports you’re currently supporting and imagine they progress to 100G, you’ll realize that the need for 400G (and beyond) isn’t that far away.

The Four Pillars of 400G/800G migration

As you begin to consider the “nuts and bolts” of supporting your migration to 400G, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the moving parts involved. To help you better understand the key variables that need to be considered, we’ve grouped them in four main areas:

  • Increasing switch-port densities
  • Optical transceiver technologies
  • Connector options
  • Cabling advances

Together, these four areas represent a big part of your migration toolbox. Use them to fine-tune your migration strategy to match your current and future needs.

The Four Pillars of 400G/800G migration diagram

Further information

1 Digital Trends 2020;
2 The Golden Age of HyperScale; Data Centre magazine; November 30, 2020
5 The Datacenter as a Computer Designing Warehouse-Scale Machines Third Edition Luiz André Barroso, Urs Hölzle, and Parthasarathy Ranganathan Google LLC. Morgan & Claypool publishers pg 27
6 LightCounting presentation for ARPA-E conference - October 2019.pdf (
9 Andy Bechtolsheim, Arista, OFC '21

The Move to 400Gb is closer than you think

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