40/100 Gbit/s Ethernet
As Ethernet displaces proprietary field buses, its speed increases are going to facilitate the operation of the digital factory. In its original Top 20 Technologies for 2012 story, EETimes noted that carriers and datacenters have been clamoring for the technology to expand their core backbone networks.
So far itís still expensive, in part because it still requires a lot of power and board space. But this technology is driving innovation in optical and signaling technologies to lower the costs and space requirements, and those innovations will ripple all across the industry over time.
Meanwhile the industry debates have been fever pitched about whatís the next big step. Engineers feel they are getting close to the limits of physics and what can reasonably be made commercial. Their view is a 400G standard could get hammered out over the next few years, but it will need the next turn of the crank in the underlying serializer/deserializer technology. Beyond that, no one knows what is feasible or when.