Thursday, March 23, 2023
HomeNetworkingEthernet at 50: Bob Metcalfe pulls down the Turing Award

Ethernet at 50: Bob Metcalfe pulls down the Turing Award

“Tickled pink” is Bob Metcalfe’s response to his newest accolade – the Affiliation for Computing Equipment’s A. M. Turing Award for inventing and commercializing Ethernet. The award was introduced as we speak and might be introduced at a ceremony June 10 in San Francisco.

Along with his trademark humorousness, Metcalfe says, “It’s a giant shock and a delight. I’ve obtained different awards prior to now so I’m aware of the notion that I’ve a brand new obligation to behave myself and dwell as much as the usual of the award and be a task mannequin based mostly on that.”

The award carries a $1 million prize. “My spouse suggests I spend it on her,” Metcalfe quipped, earlier than including that he hasn’t labored out the small print however will most likely pour most of it into his household basis (after he fills up his boat with diesel gasoline).

He says the award represents necessary recognition for the position of networking, which occupies a “little nook” of the broader subject of pc science.

Ethernet turns 50 years previous on Could 22, and Metcalfe says he remembers that day in 1973 very clearly. “I used to be sitting in Constructing 34 (at Xerox PARC), at a Selectric typewriter, typing a abstract of my ideas on how networks ought to work, after which I hard-drew the diagrams. I wrote the memo on the Orator ball on the Selectric, which was sans serif as a result of I preferred that font.”

David Boggs, the co-creator of Ethernet, died final yr and Metcalfe has fond recollections of their partnership. “He and I had been the Bobbsey Twins. We had been splendidly complementary; I being the extra articulate of the 2 and he being the extra detailed oriented. Collectively we constructed this factor, and I miss him. He was good friend.”

Ethernet at 50

After co-inventing and dealing to standardize Ethernet, Metcalfe commercialized the know-how at 3Com, the corporate that he based in 1979.

“Ethernet is the foundational know-how of the web, which helps greater than 5 billion customers and permits a lot of recent life,” says Jeff Dean, Google Senior Fellow and SVP of Google Analysis and AI. “Immediately, with an estimated seven billion ports across the globe, Ethernet is so ubiquitous that we take it without any consideration. It’s simple to neglect that our interconnected world wouldn’t be the identical if not for Bob Metcalfe’s invention and his enduring imaginative and prescient that each pc wanted to be networked.”

Authentic Ethernet ran at 2.94mbps. Immediately, Gigabit Ethernet deployments are widespread and 400Gig Ethernet is slowly gaining momentum amongst hyperscalers, telcos, and different organizations that want ultra-high-speed backbones. Within the lab and on the roadmap are 800Gbps Ethernet and even 1.6Tbps Ethernet. Metcalfe says there’s no restrict to how briskly Ethernet can go – the following frontier is 1.6T/bit Ethernet on a single Lambda.

Scorching on geothermal power

Metcalfe has worn many hats throughout his profession: inventor, entrepreneur, enterprise capitalist, tutorial, and pundit. Through the Nineteen Nineties, he was writer of InfoWorld (a Foundry publication) and wrote a preferred column.

The 76-year-old says that taking up new challenges is what has stored him engaged and motivated: “I discovered that the enjoyable half is on the steepest a part of the educational curve.” Immediately, Metcalfe is a analysis affiliate in computational engineering on the Laptop Science and Synthetic Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at MIT.

His focus is on modeling geothermic wells. Metcalfe says eothermal power has the potential to “save the world.” He says, “If we are able to good drilling and make it economical, we are able to have entry to an infinite provide of fully clear power.”

Metcalfe says he developed an curiosity in geothermal power when he was on the College of Texas, the place he was Professor of Innovation on the Cockrell Faculty of Engineering, Professor of Entrepreneurship on the McCombs Faculty of Enterprise, and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise at The College of Texas at Austin.

He was concerned in a two-year undertaking with the Deptartment of Power to make use of startups to speed up adoption of the know-how and obtained hooked on the concept of modeling geothermic wells.

“That required that I do know thermodynamics. I by no means took any thermodynamics after I was in school so now I’m finding out thermodynamics.” He provides, “After I study thermodynamics, I’ve to study linear algebra.”

That makes Metcalfe the poster boy for lifelong studying. “There’s no different approach to be,” he says.

Optimistic in regards to the future

From his vantage level as one of many early pioneers of the computing/web period, Metcalfe says he’s optimistic in regards to the future. He describes himself as “awestruck” with the advances in synthetic intelligence and says the web performs a key position in ensuring that sufficient knowledge is offered for AI-based modeling programs.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.



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