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COBO looks inside and beyond the data centre 

The Consortium of On-Board Optics is working on 400 gigabit optics for the data centre and also for longer-distance links. COBO is a Microsoft-led initiative tasked with standardising a form factor for embedded optics.

Established in March 2015, the consortium already has over 50 members and expects to have early specifications next year and first hardware by late 2017.


Brad Booth

Brad Booth, the chair of COBO and principal architect for Microsoft’s Azure Global Networking Services, says Microsoft plans to deploy 100 gigabit in its data centres next year and that when the company started looking at 400 gigabit, it became concerned about the size of the proposed pluggable modules, and the interface speeds needed between the switch silicon and the pluggable module.

“What jumped out at us is that we might be running into an issue here,” says Booth.

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Monolithic silicon photonic chips move a step closer  

Indium phosphide laser arrays have been grown on a 300 mm silicon wafer by Ghent University and imec, the Belgium nano-electronics R&D centre. Growing indium phosphide lasers directly onto the silicon wafer promises compact monolithic silicon photonics circuits.   


Shown are three v-shaped indium phosphide lasers and their gratings on a silicon-on-insulator substrate. Source: Ghent University, imec

Silicon photonics chips are hybrid designs because of silicon’s inability to generate light. Silicon photonics companies either couple a discrete laser to a chip or bond indium phosphide wafers or ‘chiplets' to the silicon wafer and process it to create working lasers that become part of the silicon photonics chip. Growing lasers directly on silicon creates a third approach for the densest applications.

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PMC unveils OTN framer for IP core and edge routers

PMC-Sierra’s latest Optical Transport Network (OTN) framer chip for IP core and edge routers doubles throughput to 240 gigabit.

The Meta-240G frames IP router traffic using OTN before passing the traffic to the transport network. Line-rate encryption is included on-chip to secure traffic between data centres and traffic in the cloud.


Source: PMC-Sierra

Adding OTN to a router delivers several benefits, says PMC. OTN helps identify networking faults more quickly and simplifies the monitoring and enforcement of service-level agreements. OTN also includes forward-error correction which benefits optical link performance. 

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ECOC 2015 Review - Final Part 

The second and final part of the survey of developments at the ECOC 2015 show held recently in Valencia.  

Part 2 - Client-side component and module developments   

  • The first SWDM Alliance module shown
  • More companies detail CWDM4, CLR4 and PSM4 mid-reach modules
  • 400 Gig datacom technologies showcased
  • The CFP8 MSA for 400 Gigabit Ethernet unveiled

The CFP MSA modules including the newest CFP8. Source: Finisar

  • Lumentum and Kaiam use silicon photonics for mid-reach modules
  • Finisar demonstrates a 10 km 25 Gig SFP28, and low-latency 25 Gig and 100 Gig SR4 interfaces 


Shortwave wavelength-division multiplexing

Finisar demonstrated the first 100 gigabit shortwave wavelength-division multiplexing (SWDM) module at ECOC. Dubbed the SWDM4, the 100 gigabit interface supports WDM over multi-mode fibre. Finisar showed a 40 version at OFC earlier this year. “This product [the SWDM4] provides the next step in that upgrade path,” says Rafik Ward, vice president of marketing at Finisar. 

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Ovum Q&A: Infinera as an end-to-end systems vendor

Infinera hosted an Insight analyst day on October 6th to highlight its plans now that it has acquired metro equipment player, Transmode. Gazettabyte interviewed Ron Kline, principal analyst, intelligent networks at market research firm, Ovum, who attended the event.    


Q. Infinera’s CEO Tom Fallon referred to this period as a once-in-a-decade transition as metro moves from 10 Gig to 100 Gig. The growth is attributed mainly to the uptake of cloud services and he expects this transition to last for a while. Is this Ovum’s take?  

Ron Kline, OvumRK: It is a transition but it is more about coherent technology rather than 10 Gig to 100 Gig. Coherent enables that higher-speed change which is required because of the level of bandwidth going on in the metro.

We are going to see metro change from 10 Gig to 100 Gig, much like we saw it change from 2.5 Gig to 10 Gig. Economically, it is going to be more feasible for operators to deploy 100 Gig and get more bang for their buck.

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Sckipio improves’s speed, reach and density  

Sckipio is using this week’s Broadband World Forum event in London to highlight its latest activities 

Sckipio has enhanced the performance of its chipset, demonstrating 1 gigabit data rates over 300 meter of telephone wire. The broadband standard has been specified for 100 meters only. The Israeli start-up has also demonstrated 2 gigabit performance by bonding two telephone wires.


Michael Weissman

“Understand that is still immature,” says Michael Weissman, co-founder and vice president of marketing at Sckipio. “We have improved the performance of by 40 percent this summer because we haven’t had time to do the optimisation until now.”

The company also announced a 32-port distribution point unit (DPU), the aggregation unit that is fed via fibre and delivers to residences. 

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ECOC '15 Reflections: Part 2 

Part 2: More industry executives share the trends and highlights they noted at the recent European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) event, held in Valencia. 


Martin Zirngibl, head of network enabling components and technologies at Bell Labs. 

Silicon Photonics is seeming to gain traction, but traditional component suppliers are still betting on indium phosphide.

There are many new start-ups in silicon photonics, most seem to be going after the 100 gigabit QSFP28 market. However, silicon photonics still needs a ubiquitous high-volume application for the foundry model to be sustainable.

There is a battle between 4x25 Gig CWDM and 100 Gig PAM-4 56 gigabaud, with most people believing that 400 Gig PAM-4 or discrete multi-tone with 100 Gig per lambda will win.


Will coherent make it into black and white applications - up to 80 km - or is there a role for a low-cost wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) system with direct detection?

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