By Casimer DeCusatis Ph.D.
Welcome to my daily blog from OFC 2014! For the duration of the conference, I’ll be updating you on some of the most interesting topics at the event, reviewing key presentations, and generally taking the pulse of OFC. We’ve got a lot to cover, starting with the conference kickoff events.
The week started out (as most weeks do) with Sunday, featuring a full day immersion workshop on data center and software defined photonic networks, sponsored by the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA) in partnership with the National Science Foundation and Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN). Photonic devices have become vital building blocks as network capacity increases and bandwidth management becomes an important issue for emerging installations. This workshop discussed the role photonic devices might play in software defined networks (SDN). The flexibility and centralized control of SDN have already been applied to devices such as MEMs-based 3D optical cross connects, elastic transceivers, and flexible grid WDM systems. A group of industry experts discussed what features of the photonic layer should be subject to SDN management, and what new standards might be required.
As I mentioned in a previous OFC blog, 2014 is poised to become the year of SDN. Just as SDN has its roots in earlier control plane technologies dating back many years, other solutions such as GMPLS have been around for quite some time. The debate over whether SDN is destined to replace GMPLS as a WAN control plane technology was taken up at a special OFC session. While this session didn’t offer any definitive conclusions, it did provide a fascinating glimpse into the future of intelligent control planes for service providers and telecommunication systems.
Other hotly debated topics so far have included the role of optical interconnects in multi-rack systems, within a rack, and within a server backplane. Normally backplane connections are made with short distance copper links, including low cost options such as direct attach copper cables (DAC). However, the viability of this approach has come into question as data rates and distances have increased. For example, DAC cables used to reach 8-10 meters at data rates up to 10.3 Gbaud; as data rates have increased to 25.78 Gbaud, distances have shortened to 3-5 meters and optical fiber has gradually become the preferred transport media. Furthermore, as copper solutions for 100-400 Gbit/s data rates threaten to exceed system power-density limits, optical technology has emerged as a preferred approach within the rack and backplane. Today’s session discussed whether optical solutions are mature enough and have potential to reach a low enough cost point for high volume adoption. We also discussed some industry trends which are driving more fiber into the backplane (including micro-servers, server disaggregation, and larger scalable flat networks).
OFC 2014 is once again shaping up to be an outstanding event. Just to keep the conference interesting, see if you can spot the theme I’ll be using in the titles of my daily blog posts all this week. If you figure it out, tweet me (@Dr_Casimer) and I’ll acknowledge your answer by posting it to the global Internet, where you’ll be instantly recognized by over 4 billion people. Be sure to come back tomorrow for another blog post title clue and more about this year’s OFC conference!
Posted: 10 March 2014 by
Casimer DeCusatis Ph.D.
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