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, 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.