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Entries in COBO (4)


COBO: specification work nearing completion

The Consortium for On-board Optics (COBO) is on target to complete its specifications work by the year end. The work will then enter a final approval stage that will take up to a further three months.

On-board optics, also known as mid-board or embedded optics, have been available for years but vendors have so far had to use custom products. The goal of COBO, first announced in March 2015 and backed by such companies as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Finisar and Intel, is to develop a technology roadmap and common specifications for on-board optics to ensure interoperability.

Brad Booth (pictured), the chair of COBO and principal architect for Microsoft’s Azure Global Networking Services, says that bringing optics inside systems raises a different set of issues compared to pluggable optical modules used on the front panel of equipment. “If you have a requirement for 32 ports on a faceplate, you know mechanically what you can build,” says Booth.

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Arista adds coherent CFP2 modules to its 7500 switch 

Arista Networks has developed a coherent optical transport line card for its 7500 high-end switch series. The line card hosts six 100 gigabit CFP2-ACO (analogue coherent optics) and has a reach of up to 5,000 km.


Martin Hull

Several optical equipment makers have announced ‘stackable’ platforms specifically to link data centres in the last year.

Infinera’s Cloud Xpress was the first while Coriant recently detailed its Groove G30 platform. Arista’s announcement offers data centre managers an alternative to such data centre interconnect platforms by adding dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) optics directly onto its switch. 

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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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OFC 2015 digest: Part 2 

The second part of the survey of developments at the OFC 2015 show held recently in Los Angeles.   
Part 2: Client-side component and module developments   
  • CFP4- and QSFP28-based 100GBASE-LR4 announced
  • First mid-reach optics in the QSFP28
  • SFP extended to 28 Gigabit
  • 400 Gig precursors using DMT and PAM-4 modulations 
  • VCSEL roadmap promises higher speeds and greater reach

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