Juniper Networks has announced what it says is the industry's first 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE) router interface card, which will be offered as part of Juniper's T1600 core router. The 100 GbE card is designed to address what the company calls the “new generation of scale” coming to core networks. Telecommunications providers, cloud-infrastructure companies, and other organizations rolling out large-scale virtualization face ever increasing demands on their networks. The 100 GE interface will provide an order of magnitude increase over most current interfaces.

The increased per-link capacity of Juniper’s 100 GbE interface card means that data centers as well as wireless and wireline service providers can have fewer interfaces in their networks. The company says that having fewer interfaces leads to simpler network topologies, more efficient operations, and potential cost savings. 100 GbE interfaces should also make it easier to deploy high-capacity services like video and 3G/4G wireless broadband.

"Verizon is targeting 2010 for commercial deployment of 100GbE," said Glenn Wellbrock, director of Optical Transport Network Architecture & Design at Verizon. "The trials conducted in our network to date have focused on proving that our existing optical transmission systems are ready to support 100GbE. What has been missing so far is a true 100GbE client-side core router interface, so we are encouraged to see Juniper announcing 100 GbE interfaces for its T1600 routers.”

100 GbE is poised to be a major factor in the increasing deployment of virtualization in cloud computing, data centers, and networked storage. Where adding interface capacity used to mean just more traffic-handling capability, now capacity is a crucial element of virtualized infrastructure for applications, servers, and content.

100 GbE has previously been demonstrated by such companies as Nortel, Infinera, and Cisco Systems. However, Juniper claims it is the first to offer a commercial 100 GbE router interface card for core networks. Juniper's technology uses ten 10 GbE optical wavelengths to create the 100 GbE packet flow. The consolidated flow creates more bandwidth that is easier to manage. The company says that deploying one 100 GbE interface card is more economical than deploying ten 10 GbE interfaces.

100 Gigabit Ethernet is not yet an established standard. The IEEE is still developing the 802.3ba standard for 100 GE (as well as 40 GE). It is expected to be finalized in mid-2009, with ratification hopeful for June 2010.

Pricing information is not yet available. Juniper expects the 100 GE interface card to be deployed in customer pilot networks before the end of 2009.