As the technology industry looks back with fondness on all we accomplished in 2018, we’re all excited for the endless possibilities of what 2019 will bring. The high-speed data center interconnects (DCI) market’s no different. Following are three things we predict will happen this year.
Data centers consume large volumes of physical space that need myriad support, including infrastructures like power and cooling. Datacenter geographic disaggregation will become even more commonplace, as it is increasingly difficult to build a single, large, contiguous mega data center. Disaggregation will also be more critical in metropolitan areas where land is at a premium and for disaster recovery where geographically diverse locations are needed. Large-bandwidth interconnects are essential to connect these data centers.
The DCI space has become an increased focus for traditional DWDM system suppliers over the last few years. The growing bandwidth demands of cloud service providers (CSPs) offering software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capabilities have driven demand for optical systems to connect switches and routers at the different tiers of the CSP’s data center network. Today, this requires operation at 100 Gbps, which inside the data center, can be met with direct-attach copper (DAC) cabling, active optical cables (AOCs), or 100G “gray” optics. For links connecting data center facilities (campus or edge/metro applications), the only choice that was available until recently was full-featured, coherent transponder-based approaches, which are sub-optimal.
The combination of silicon photonics for highly integrated optical components and high-speed silicon complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS) for signal processing will play an even larger role in the evolution toward low-cost, low-power, switch pluggable optical modules – enabling massive interconnections between today’s vast regional, live data center deployments.
The highly integrated silicon photonics chip is at the heart of the pluggable module. Compared to indium phosphide, the silicon CMOS platform enables foundry-level access to optical components at much larger 200-mm and 300-mm wafer sizes. The photodetectors for the 1300-nm and 1500-nm wavelengths are built by adding germanium epitaxy to the standard silicon CMOS platform. Further, silica and silicon nitride-based components may be integrated to fabricate low-index contrast and temperate-insensitive optical components.