Saturday, July 21, 2007

You Want Speed?

And you think your 15 meg connection is fast, try 40 gigs ... yes, you read that right. That's more than 2600 times faster than your 15 meg connection.

Old Lady surfing Web at 40 gigabits-per-second

It really brings the speed spectrum to different heights. It makes me remember how we changed our mindset when we spoke of CPU speeds moving from MHz to the GHz scale. Not a few years ago when CPU speeds moved from 300 MHz to 500 MHz, it was a big deal. Now we don't even flinch when CPU speeds move from 2 GHz to 3 GHz and now we're starting to get used to multiple-core CPUs so the speed increase is even multiplied more.

But just imagine what 40 gigs/second can do. Movie downloads in seconds ... of course, we might have to wait just a little bit longer than 2 seconds for the HD movies. Video teleconferencing in HD quality. Crystal clear telephone calls. Fully distributed, highly redundant networks across the globe that act and feel like they're in the same room. Think about the applications for virtual medicine, and of course gaming to the limits.

And it's not just data transfers that can take advantage of this speed. Think about clustering technology spread across a worldwide network sharing not just data but machine resources like CPU cycles and physical RAM and that's a very very fast and powerful global super computer.

Of course for all this to happen there's going to to be a lot of work that needs to happen at the last mile. We can have a very fast 40 gig pipe running across the globe but if the last miles are still limited to megabits, it won't quite work. So sooner or later we'll have to get that fiber into our homes because copper and coax won't cut it.

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