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Research team examines changing state of 400G optical transceivers

March 7, 2018  

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Technologies such as cloud computing have brought with them a storm of global data traffic, eating up large bandwidths demanded by applications such as video streams and online gaming. Studies show up to a 25% annual increase in data centre interconnect applications, and this significantly high demand for data processing, computation and storage in data centres calls for increasingly high-speed optical transceivers to support growing datacenters.

Although 100G and 200G optical interconnects are widely used at present, 400G optical transceivers are expected to be a fundamental element in near future for both inter- and intra-data centre communications, according to findings from a new study.

Team to present receiver of #400G optical transceiver guidelines for vendors & users at #OFC18 in San Diego

Next-generation optical transceivers such as 400G, 800G or even 1.6T interconnects promise to use less power and be less expensive, smarter and smaller.

To home in on how different designs of 400G transceivers would affect device cost and power consumption, and how these cost differences would eventually influence the cost of data centre networks, an international research team from Greece, Luxemburg and Spain have analyzed and compared the cost and power consumption of different 400G transceivers, and for the first time predicted each transceiver’s cost reduction trend over the next five years using a mathematical model.

The researchers further evaluated the cost and power consumption of constructing and upgrading the data centre using different transceiver-installation technologies, providing cost-effective and power-efficient connectivity solutions for different sizes of data centres. The team will present their techno-economic evaluation results at OFC 2018 taking place next week in San Diego.

“The 400G-transceiver market is one of the fastest evolving markets, and our study showed 400G transceivers provide more significant benefits compared to current generation transceivers in terms of cost and power consumption,” said Theodoros Rokkas, the primary author of the paper and a scientist working at Athens Information Technology.

“We believe our analysis and evaluation can provide some insights and guidelines for device manufacturers and users regarding the best choice of 400G transceivers and the optimal transceiver-installation approach that can be applied in different data centres.”

To estimate the total cost of 400G devices, Rokkas and his colleagues broke the cost into three discrete parts: the cost of manufacturing the Photonic Engine — a system that uses photonic devices as the main component of an optical transceiver; the cost of purchasing the electronics, including digital signal processing (DSP) chips; and the cost for the optical and mechanical packaging of the transceiver module.


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