There are over 10 companies that have demonstrate the 400G Ethernet optical transceiver in OFC 2018, which are expected to deploy 400G optical transceivers in data centers and Telecom in the end of next year. At the same time, the relative standard formulating works have been laid the foundation of the next technology to adapt to the increasing requirements.
The new 400G products usually adopt 8 50G serial links, which are based on the latest PAM-4 module technology. As recently as last week, IEEE had initially approved a set of 100 gigabytes of serial link standards that could lead to the future of the 800G Ethernet standard. At the same time, an industry organization COBO that owns about 70 member companies (On - Board Optics), released the first specification for the module of embedded router and switch the mainboard of the specifications, aimed at 400G ~ 800G products to reduce heat and power consumption problems, as a first step towards the future optoelectronic integrated components.
On board optics alliance COBO released the On Board Optics specification 1.0 at OFC 2018, which supports up to 800 Gbps speed rate. This specification provides the first standard for switches and network system manufacturers to implement an on-board device for high performance data center network applications.
The specification 1.0 defines two channel types (8 channel and 16 channel), 3 dimensions, and generic main connectors. The specification also defines the requirements for electric, mechanical engineering, optics and thermal parameters, supporting the latest IEEE 802.3bs-2017 standard and multiple optical interfaces that are beneficial to decrease the packaging sizes. Besides, COBO also defines a reference application solution for data centers and coherent networks. The reference application is a 1RU 12.8Tbps switch which adopts front-to-back or back-to-front air flow and is able to change with different requirements.
To this specification, COBO union President, Microsoft's chief engineer Brad Booth pointed out that the specification in reducing power consumption, improving device deployment and go line is a breakthrough development, especially for more than 400 Gb/s rate applications. COBO technology addressed many of the challenges of today's pluggable devices, and provided ample space for upgrading to the next generation of networks such as 1.6Tbps.
The above all these efforts face the challenges of highest possible data transmission rate, while maintaining acceptable transmission distance, power consumption, heating and cost. With the optical links are widely applied into data center and central engine rooms of Telecommunications, all of these become more and more important.
Today's big data center are preparing to move from the 10-25G Ethernet network in the server racks or the 100G Ethernet network between the racks to the next stage. Brad Booth, a networking expert at Microsoft data center and President of COBO, said: "The next stage is the 400G network... It is expected to start the new program in late 2019 or early 2020, and it seems that there are already a number of related components that are already available. We have seen the switch chip appear.
The industrial organization COBO positively insert the optical communication technology from the router or switch panel module, direct embedding of the router or switch the mainboard, so that can support more open air and the heat sink of large area, in order to reduce the system for data transfer rate increases with the rise of temperature. This year, the expected power consumption of the first-generation 400G module released on OFC is 12~14W. COBO defines the version of 8 and 16 links, which respectively supports 20W and 40W power consumption. The group will publish a technical white paper in the next few weeks detailing the real issues.
COBO predicted that there will be the first showing products in this fall and most products will take the next speed rate after 400G as the target. The organization will begin the next generation of standard formulation work after 800G. Booth predicted: “Eventually optical communication will be transferred to ASIC, because the serial/unserializer (serdes) has consumed 30 to 40 percent of the power of the network chip."
Through COBO, the manufacturers can configure the system with optical transceivers and test it before shipment. The current data centers and telecom operators are self-purchasing optical modules with field installation. Booth pointed out this was a huge change. But he who have served in Intel said that it is like a server based on multiple PCI CARDS and memory module and delivered to the user: "Netcom areas still fall behind the server field five years." COBO released the first 400~800G module specification embedded in the motherboard.
The COBO solution is one of many pluggable optical transceivers' options based on MSA. These technology options also include Molex and QSFP-DD solution supported by Facebook as well as Arista and Google's QSFP solution.
After a brief respite, COBO may turn its attention to the technology of 800G or above. The industry standard organization optical interconnection BBS (Optical Internetworking Forum, OIF) has begun the setting work for 100G serial communication standard, which may become the basic for the future 800G Ethernet specification. But OIF' work so far have focused on a short distance of links. The good news is that the 100G lines are expected to use the existing serial links pioneered in 50G PAM-4 modulations, and Ethernet network Alliance (Ethernet Alliance, EA) are expected to be in a short period of time for emerging 50G product to set up an interoperability projects.
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