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Oclaro showcases its pluggable CFP2-DCO at ECOC

Multi-sourcing CFP2-DCO modules, coherent digital signal processor (DSP) partnerships, new laser opportunities and the latest on Lumentum’s acquisition of Oclaro. A conversation with Oclaro’s chief strategy officer, Yves LeMaitre.

Oclaro demonstrated its CFP2 Digital Coherent Optics (CFP2-DCO) pluggable module working with Acacia Communications’ own CFP2-DCO at the recent European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC), held in Rome.

Yves LeMaitreOclaro announced earlier this year that it would use Acacia’s Meru coherent DSP for a CFP2-DCO product.

The company also announced at ECOC the availability of a portfolio of single-mode lasers that operate over an extended temperature range.

“We see two new laser opportunities for us,” says LeMaitre. “The upgrade of the access networks and, concurrently, the deployment of 5G.”


Coherent pluggables

The CFP2-DCO is a dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) module that supports 100-gigabit and 200-gigabit data rates. With the CFP2-DCO design, the coherent DSP is integrated within the module, unlike the CFP2 Analog Coherent Optics (CFP2-ACO) where the DSP chip resides on the line card. 

“A concern of the market is that there has been essentially only one source of CFP2-DCO for the last few years and it was Acacia,” says LeMaitre. “Now there will be a broader supply for people who want coherent pluggables.”

Oclaro has been selling a CFP2-ACO but the company could not address those systems vendors that do not have their own DSP yet want to use coherent pluggables. “Now we can leverage our optics and combine it with Acacia’s DSP and bring another source of the CFP2-DCO,” says LeMaitre.

Acacia’s Meru is a low-power DSP that supports 200 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) wavelengths using either 8-ary quadrature amplitude modulation (8-QAM) or 16-QAM. Using 8-QAM enhances the optical reach at 200 gigabit. Oclaro’s CFP2-DCO uses its indium phosphide-based optics whereas Acacia’s module uses the company’s silicon photonics technology.

Oclaro sees the deal with Acacia as a first step, given the coming generation of 400-gigabit coherent modules including the 400ZR.

Production of Oclaro’s CFP2-DCO will commence in early 2019.  


WaveLogic Ai DSP

Oclaro, along with module makers Lumentum and NeoPhotonics, signed an agreement in 2017 with Ciena to use the equipment maker’s 400-gigabit WaveLogic Ai coherent DSP. Oclaro is now shipping the 400-gigabit optical module that uses the Ciena DSP. 

“The market for these types of large 400-gigabit form-factor modules in fairly limited as it is already addressed by many of the network equipment manufacturers,” says LeMaitre. “It [the module] is targeted at a few customers and a few opportunities.”

When the agreement with the three module makers was announced, there was talk of Ciena developing coherent DSPs for emerging applications such as 400-gigabit pluggables. However, Ciena has since decided to bring its own coherent modules to the marketplace and Oclaro does not yet know if it will get access to Ciena’s future coherent DSPs.    

“We remain very interested in working with Ciena if they give us access to a DSP that could fit into pluggable coherent solutions but we have no agreement on that,” says LeMaitre.


There is an expectation in terms of dollar-per-bit that 400-gigabit modules are not yet meeting 


Access and 5G wireless 

At ECOC, Oclaro announced the availability of extended-temperature 10-gigabit and 25-gigabit lasers for access network and 5G deployments. The company also detailed its electro-absorption modulated laser (EML) supporting single-wavelength 100-gigabit transmissions for the data centre.

LeMaitre says the latest laser opportunities stem from the expansion and speed upgrades of the access infrastructure as well as upcoming 5G deployments. “This is resulting in a new lease of life for single-mode lasers because of the faster speeds and increased distances,” he says. These distances range from 10-40km and even 80km. 

The environmental conditions required for these applications means the lasers must operate over industrial temperature (I-Temp) ranges, from -40 to 85oC and even higher.  

Oclaro’s 25-gigabit directly-modulated laser (DML) for 5G fronthaul and mid-haul applications operates at up to 95oC. This means the laser does not need a thermo-electric cooler, simplifying the module design and reducing its power consumption. The laser has also been operated at 50 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) using 4-level pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM-4).

LeMaitre says the architectures for 5G will vary depending on the density of deployments and the primary application such as broadband or the Internet of Things.    

Oclaro also announced an extended temperature range DML for 10-gigabit passive optical networks such as XGS-PON and 10GE-PON. The laser, which operates at the 1270nm wavelength, is used at the optical network unit (ONU) at the premises. Oclaro is also developing new 10-gigabit EMLs for the downstream link, from the PON optical line terminal (OLT) to the ONU. Transmission distances for such PONs can be 20km.

The company recently expanded laser production at its Japan and UK facilities, while the 10- and 25-gigabit lasers are now being mass-produced.


400 Gigabit Ethernet 

Oclaro was one of five companies that took part in a 100-gigabit single-wavelength interoperability demonstration organised by the Ethernet Alliance at the show. The other four were Applied Optoelectronics, InnoLight Technology, Source Photonics, and Sumitomo Electric Industries. 

The company showed its EML operating at 50 gigabaud with PAM-4 in the 100-Gigabit QSFP28 module. The 50Gbaud EML can operate uncooled such that no thermo-electric cooler is needed. 

Oclaro says it will soon start sampling a 400-gigabit QSFP-DD FR4 module. The 2km four-channel FR4 developed by the 100-Gigabit Single Lambda MSA  will use four 50Gbaud lasers. Volume production of the FR4 module is expected from the second quarter of 2019.

LeMaitre says 400-gigabit modules for the data centre face two key challenges.

One is meeting the power consumption of the new form factor modules such as the QSFP-DD. The optics for a four-wavelength design consumes 3-4W while the accompanying PAM-4 digital signal processor can consume 7-8W. “A transceiver burning 10-12W might be an issue for large-scale deployments,” says LeMaitre. “There is a power issue here that needs to be fixed.”

The second challenge for 400-gigabit client-side is cost. The price of 100-gigabit modules has now come down considerably. “There is an expectation in terms of dollar-per-bit that 400-gigabit modules are not yet meeting,” says LeMaitre. If the DSPs have yet to meet the power needs while the cost of the new modules is not in line with the dollar-per-bit performance of 100-gigabit modules, then 400-gigabit modules will be delayed, he says.       



Lumentum’s acquisition of Oclaro, announced in March, continues to progress. 

LeMaitre says two of the main three hurdles have now been overcome: anti-trust clearance in the U.S. and gaining shareholder approval. What remains is achieving Chinese clearance via the State Authority for Market Regulation.

“Until the merger deal is closed, we have to continue to operate as two separate companies,” says LeMaitre. But that doesn't prevent the two firms planning for the day when the deal is completed. Issues being worked through include the new organisation, the geographic locations of the companies’ groups, and how the two firms will work together to build a combined financial model. 

The deal is expected to close before the year-end.

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