Jensen Huang interviews Bob Metcalfe on the history, lessons learned, and future of Ethernet


London, September 30, 2020: Today marks the 40th anniversary of the first Ethernet specification – published on September 30, 1980, in the renowned “Blue Book” by the DEC/Intel/Xerox consortium. To commemorate this occasion, Jensen Huang, founder, president and CEO of NVIDIA, has interviewed the inventor of Ethernet, Bob Metcalfe.

The first Ethernet specification was a radical, groundbreaking decision that led to the formation of IEEE 802. Few could have predicted the connectivity revolution this would enable – starting with PCs and networked peripherals, all the way to local area networks (LANs). ), client/server systems, the WAN (Wide Area Network) and global connectivity – not forgetting other advances such as wireless networks, high-speed data center networks and the Internet of Matters (IoT).

This interview reveals that the Ethernet journey still has a long way to go. Jensen Huang was really excited about the progress: “In a bizarre way, Bob, the Coronavirus has put huge pressure and a heavy focus on the internet and networking.” Bob, meanwhile, compared the 1980 standard to what’s happening today: “There’s no relation to the 2020 Ethernet standard. There’s been a lot of evolution over the 40 years.”

Jensen posited that in the future, “We’re going to have an application that partly runs in one data center, partly runs in another data center at the edge, and then partly runs on autonomous machines that roam all over the world.” the world”. He then referred to the path traveled from 2-D images to insight in virtual reality: “Today, thanks to your invention, Bob, we have the ability to share in different places… in the future we will be able to teleport to different spaces… the teleportation will happen. It will just be moving photons, not atoms.”

“Hearing Jensen Huang, or Bob Metcalfe, speak would be a gift in itself, but having the two of them together in dialogue is very exciting,” says Mark Fox, CEO of NetEvents, the event organizer. “Not only are they two of the greatest visionaries and inventors in technology, but they are also highly successful entrepreneurs sharing real business insights on the amazing success of Ethernet.”

The event included a panel discussion led by Tam Dell’Oro, founder and CEO of the Dell’Oro Group. Bob Metcalfe joined the discussion along with three other highly influential luminaries in driving the Ethernet industry – Nan Chen, President of the MEF; David Law, Chairman of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group; and Brad Booth, President of the Ethernet Technology Consortium – a body further exploring the ongoing communications revolution made possible by the invention of Ethernet.

Topics discussed included: vendor innovation vs. commodification of standards; new Ethernet technologies like 800Gbps, optical switching, and quantum Ethernet – plus Bob’s new focus on power consumption and the need for a greener Ethernet. The event concluded with a live Q&A session with invited international IT and business media. Diario TI participated in the event.

The interview invites a really deep and evolving discussion,” says Tam Dell’Oro, “It started with Jensen, clearly excited to meet the inventor of Ethernet, eager to learn about the creative surroundings at Xerox PARC, what was needed and how Bob faced the challenge for the first time. We then listened to these two highly successful entrepreneurs share their experience of the challenges facing start-ups in an surroundings of established giants like IBM.”

They compared the motivational slogans that kept them going and, of course, the imperative role of industry standards. Jensen pointed to the expected decline of Moore’s Law and recognized the need for a new type of processor, one that would later prove necessary to the evolution of machine learning. And we end with two new friends sharing visions about the future of networks and the challenges of the IoT. There is so much valuable material here – this is definitely one to listen to again and again.”

Today’s full interview is available on the NetEvents website .

video of the event

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