Talking about the Choice of Optical Fiber Transceiver in 400G Data Center

As the demand for bandwidth, capacity, and lower latency continues to grow, the migration to faster network speeds is being promoted. Therefore, every year, the adaptability and survivability of large-scale cloud data centers is a test. In the past few years, the link speed of the data center has increased from 25G/100G to 100G/400G. Every time a further leap in bandwidth is achieved, there will be a short pause, and then the person in charge of the data center needs to prepare for the next leap. Currently, the data center is working on the leap to 400G. For data center managers, one of the key considerations is which optical communication technology is most suitable.

Wu Jian, Technical Director, North Asia, CommScope

As the demand for bandwidth, capacity, and lower latency continues to grow, the migration to faster network speeds is being promoted. Therefore, every year, the adaptability and survivability of large-scale cloud data centers is a test. In the past few years, the link speed of the data center has increased from 25G/100G to 100G/400G. Every time a further leap in bandwidth is achieved, there will be a short pause, and then the person in charge of the data center needs to prepare for the next leap. Currently, the data center is working on the leap to 400G. For data center managers, one of the key considerations is which optical communication technology is most suitable.

Talking about the Choice of Optical Fiber Transceiver in 400G Data Center

Image source: NextPlatform 2018

400GE fiber optic transceiver

As optical device manufacturers try to occupy a leading position in the data center field, cost and performance will promote the development of the 400G optical communications market. In 2017, CFP8 became the first-generation 400GE module used for core routers and DWDM transmission interfaces. The module size is slightly smaller than CFP2, and the optical device supports CDAUI-16 (16x25G NRZ) or CDAUI-8 (8x50G PAM4) electrical I/O. Recently, the focus of the industry has shifted to the second generation of 400GE modules: QSFP-DD and OSFP. These modules are only the size of a thumb and are designed for high port density data center switches. They can achieve 12.8 Tbps throughput in a single rack through 32 x 400GE ports, and only support CDAUI-8 (8x50G PAM4) electrical I/O.

Although CFP8, QSFP-DD and OSFP are all hot-pluggable, not all 400GE transceiver modules are the same, some of which are directly mounted on the host printed circuit board. The PCB traces of these embedded transceivers are very short, enabling low power consumption and high port density. Although embedded optical devices have higher bandwidth density and per-channel rate, for 400GE, because it is easier to maintain and can bring cost-effectiveness of paying on demand, the Ethernet industry still favors pluggable optical devices.

The long-term vision of “starting with the end”

For the industry, the transition to 400G is another milestone in the development of data centers. The MSA (Multi-source Agreement) working group has carried out 800G research based on 8 100G transceivers. As a member of the 800G Pluggable MSA working group, CommScope is working with other IEEE members to study related solutions to support 100G server connections per wavelength based on multimode fiber. The research is underway, and the relevant plan is planned to be put on the market in 2021, and then the 1.6T plan may be launched in 2024.

Talking about the Choice of Optical Fiber Transceiver in 400G Data Center

Although the many details involved in the process of moving to higher speeds are daunting, they also help to examine the process more objectively. With the development of data center services, the speed of storage and servers must also increase. To support higher speeds, a suitable transmission medium is required. When choosing the optical module that best meets the needs of the network, we need to have a long-term vision of “starting with the end”. Because the more accurate your predictions about the required services and the delivery of these services, the better the network can support new and future applications.

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