The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is to create a single standard that covers both 40gbps and 100gbps Ethernet speeds. The standard should be completed in the next three years.
"It is the first time that an Ethernet standards task group has pursued two speeds in one standard," said John D'Ambrosia, chair of the IEEE 802.3 Higher Speed Study Group.
"The need for speed is growing everywhere, but at different rates. While the data output of servers doubles roughly every 24 months, the amount of traffic on carrier networks is doubling every 18 months."
Participants in the Higher Speed Study Group were initially split over whether to include 40 Gigabit Ethernet as part of their charter or stick with 100 Gigabit Ethernet.
Advocates for the 40 Gigabit Ethernet standard had argued that the applications that would make best use of 100 Gigabit Ethernet did not exist, and supporting the 40 Gigabit standard was a necessary first step.
Now a single standard, IEEE 802.3ba, will include specifications for both speeds and each will offer a selection of physical interfaces.
Brad Booth, president of industry group the Ethernet Alliance, said that despite the internal debates he did not expect much delay in the standardisation process.
"I would expect formal ratification sometime in 2010," he said. "The real technical meat of the work can start, and has already. We have seen presentations that are very technical in nature, so we may have a first draft by next summer," he said.