800G Ethernet

800GBASE-R: An Ethernet Physical Coding Sublayer based on Clause 119 of IEEE Std 802.3, operating at a data rate of 800 Gb/s. The hyperscalers and the largest public clouds have been on the front end of each successive network bandwidth wave for more than a decade, and it only stands to reason that they, rather than the IEEE, would want to drive the standards for faster Ethernet networks.

Right now 400 gigabit is as fast as fiber Ethernet internet goes but work on 800 gigabit suggests new adapters will be available in 12-18 months along with the required upgraded switches. Prices for 400 gigabit are still brutal which has limited its adoption and 800 gigabit is likely to be even more pricey.

Prices are so high for 400GBASE-KR that many use 100GBASE-KR or 200GBASE-KR and simply use multiple fibers to handle the increased bandwidth needed. With the introduction of 800GBASE-R to the market will simply add another options for metropolitan wide connections.

Right now working group speeds are:

  • 800G-SR8: an 8 x 100G module for SR applications to achieve link distances within the range of 60 to 100 meters based on single-mode fiber solution.
  • 800G-FR4: this would be a 4 x 200G type module for which a new FEC is required.

Cisco has rack based switches for 400 gigabit connections and its reasonable to see somebody to surface with new 800 gigabit hardware supporting the next generation fiber speeds.

The development of the faster 25 gigabit channels has been able to improved the performance. Wave guides to multiplex such high frequency signals is complex but recent work has been able to leverage arsenic trisulfide to etch circuits which has works well at 10 gigabit and now the development of 25 gigabit is reaching a new level of speed.

By recycling as much as they could from 400G, the move to 800G is seen as a widening of an existing 400G standard, The goal was to minimize the cost differential as existing 400G gear is already expensive.

Transoceanic fibers have the disadvantage of attenuation over the larger distances. The need for terabit links has been pressing for several years. One idea for the pacific is full mesh around the pacific islands which can provide fault tolerant connections so when a fiber is severed there are no outages At present denise wavelength multiplexing has been the solution for transoceanic links.


The PDF standard is available for interested readers. Undoubtedly, the internet traffic and subsequently the bandwidth requirements are increasing at a very high rate. For sure, technology companies are seriously considering the materialization of 800G optical modules and they are also working on enhancing the switching capacity of routers and switches. Vendors already have the basic 800G networking standards and hardware specifications available.  It is believed that the commercial availability of 800G optics is now a matter of a year or two.

Right now the best 400GBASE-KR can handle a metropolitan area network with a large mesh that deliver customers very high speed networking. The 80 km range at 400 gigabit is very convenient for many cities.