Emerging technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality(AR)/(VR) and autonomous vehicles are driving big data and traffic explosion beyond 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) speeds in data centers. A key theme at the Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition (OFC) 2018, the largest global conference and exposition in optical communications and networking, that I attended last month in San Diego was around next-gen transceiver development to support these new services and the ever-increasing demand for network bandwidth.
100G paves the way for 400G in the data center
As 100G technology reaches maturity in 2018, innovations such as single-lambda 100G will continue to drive down costs of next generation 100GE links, as well as enable faster transition to 400GE in the data center. Single-lambda 100G uses four-level pulse amplitude modulation (PAM4) to transmit 100G over a single fiber, as opposed to four lanes running at 25Gbps. Since single-lambda 100G requires only a single set of optical components per module, the costs of 100GE connectivity are significantly reduced and next generation 400GE becomes viable.
400GE industry-first demonstrations at OFC 2018
At OFC each year the industry has a close eye on who is innovating at the fastest pace. By working closely with the market makers, we know what the industry needs to meet market timing and ramp requirements for optical components, modules and systems. Test solutions are not only instrumental to enabling new technologies, but often the only way for our customers to showcase their new product introductions.
At this year’s show, Keysight’s solutions were an integral part of more than twenty customer demonstrations including many 400GE industry firsts, such as new 100G single-lambda modules from Accelink Technologies and Applied Optoelectronics, 400 Gbps transceivers from Innolight, as well as 400 Gbps transceiver chipsets from MaxLinear.
At the Ethernet Alliance (EA) booth, Keysight Ixia’s K400 QSFP-DD-400GE load module sent and received live, full line rate, 400GE traffic to and from Juniper 400G transport technology using LR8 QSFP-DD optics provided by Finisar and Source Photonics. This was the first public demonstration of 400GE traffic over QSFP-DD optics, which will help to accelerate the development of new IEEE 802.3bs-compliant 400GE network equipment and systems. The K400 load module also won the 2018 Lightwave Innovation Review award for the category of Field Test Equipment.
A lot has changed in the span of one year since OFC 2017, where 100G and its production ramp were all the focus, and 400G seemed in the distant future. With PAM4 enabling single lambda to cost-effectively carry 100Gb/s of data, 400Gbps in the data #center is right around the corner and production of 400G optical modules is expected to start later this year.
It was amazing to see first-hand how Keysight’s optical test solutions have accelerated and helped bring to life so many new 400GE innovations that will enable exciting new services such as 5G and IoT. Find out more about our K400 load module here and our 400GE transceiver test solutions here.