• Technical Conference:  30 March – 03 April 2025
  • Exhibition: 01 – 03 April 2025
  • Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA

Optical Data Center Interconnect: More Capacity, Lower Power and Easier Operations

By Tim Doiron, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networking, ACG Research

Back in February 2018, I wrote a pre-conference blog about the highly competitive nature of the Optical Data Center Interconnect (DCI) market and especially the optical DCI small form factor (SFF) appliance category. As the 2018 OFC Conference and Exhibition wraps up, I thought it would helpful to those trying to follow this market or make purchasing decisions to review the evolutions and advancements that were announced immediately before or during the conference.

Since my last blog, we at ACG Research completed our full-year 2017 Optical Networking and Optical DCI quantitative analysis. Total optical DCI revenue grew a robust 25.1% y-y and represents about 17% of the high-speed optical spending in metro and long-haul markets. Although relatively modest at $550 million in 2017, the SFF appliance category grew a red-hot 94.4% y-y. North America remains the dominant market, but APAC and EMEA are growing at faster rates.

To help service providers and vendors understand optical DCI reach segmentation, we also refreshed our 2016 optical DCI reach analysis, which is shown here. 


Figure 1 – 2018 and 2021 Optical DCI Reach Requirements

Vendor Update: What’s New
Looking through the product announcements, some themes emerge.  We are moving beyond 100/200G single-wavelength coherent technology and into the era of 400Gb/s and 600 Gb/s as the new battle ground. We also had numerous conversations about future products supporting C and L Band in order to open up more spectrum.  The L band has generally not been supported by vendors outside of Japan.  On the client side, while pluggable 100Gb/s remains the primary deployment model for now, products are being planned for an evolution toward 400 Gb/s pluggable clients.  Relative power continues to trend downward as we see numbers well below 0.5 Watts per Gigabit.  Vendors also continue to enhance their software in many areas including installation and programmability. 

Adva announced its FSP3000 CloudConnect Teraflex platform with support for three pluggable sleds.  With 12x100 Gb/s client-side and 2x600 Gb/s coherent, line-slide interfaces per sled, the 1RU Teraflex platform supports 36x100 Gb/s client and 6x600 Gb/s coherent line-side interfaces for a combined 7.2 Tb/s capacity.

Ciena debuted a new 6500 reconfigurable open line system (RLS) for use in part with its 1RU, Waveserver Ai (utilizing Wavelogic Ai DSP) that supports 24 x 100 Gb/s client-side and 6 x 400 Gb/s coherent line-side per chassis for a total 4.8 Tb/s capacity. The modular 6500 RLS supports a rich set of functions with multiple form factors from 1RU to 4RU.

Cisco announced an evolution to its NCS 1000 series with the 2RU, NCS 1004, which supports up to 4 x 600 Gb/s coherent wavelengths and 24 x 100 Gb/s client-side interfaces for a combined 4.8 Tb/ capacity.  Cisco also announced the NCS 1010, a new modular open line system.

Coriant announced an upgrade to the 1RU, Groove G30 with two enhanced sleds for population into the four mini-slots. Depending upon which sled is installed, the product supports either 24x100Gb/s client-side interfaces with 4x600 Gb/s coherent line-side interfaces for a combined capacity of 4.8 Tb/s or 12x400Gb/s client-side interfaces with 8x600 Gb/s line-side for combined maximum capacity of 9.6 Tb/s.

Fujitsu announced enhancements to its 1Finity line of disaggregated network elements. The 1RU, 1Finity T500/T600 series supports two sleds with each sled supporting 12x100 Gb/s client-side and 2x600 Gb/s coherent line-side interfaces for a combined capacity of 4.8 Tb/s (line + client). Fujitsu is making use of coherent DSP technology from its partnership with NTT Electronics (NEL).  Future support for 400 Gb/s client interfaces is also anticipated. 

Huawei announced a commercial 400 Gb/s coherent solution utilizing its own DSP technology.  The solution utilizes single wavelength in short distances and dual 200Gb/s carriers in compressed channel spacing for longer distances.  Although not naming a specific product, we expect to see this technology show up in the SFF appliance category in the future.
Infinera announced its 5th generation photonic integrated circuit (PIC) with the ICE5 (Infinite Capacity Engine). The ICE5 optical engine and FlexCoherent DSP supports 2.4 Tb/s with four 600 Gb/s wavelengths that can operate as four independent wavelengths or as part of a 2.4Tb/s super-channel.  Although not yet productized, one would expect the ICE5 to be part of a future evolution to the current 1RU, 1.2 Tb/s, ICE4-based Cloud Xpress 2 (client + line-side capacity of 2.4 Tb/s). Infinera recently announced Netflix as a Cloud Xpress 2 customers.

Nokia announce the PSI-M, a new SFF appliance product beyond its current 1RU, PSI-2T (1 Tb/s client and 1 Tb/s coherent line-side). The PSI-M modular design supports four sleds with an initial chassis capacity of 16x100 Gb/s client interfaces and 8x200 Gb/s coherent line-side for 3.2 Tb/s total capacity (client plus line).   Nokia also announce it’s third-generation coherent DSP engine, the PSE-3 (photonic service engine) with probabilistic constellation shaping (PCS). PCS is an advanced modulation technique intended to maximize coherent transmission over any fiber or distance.  Nokia intends to release future optical products including the PSI-M with support for Nx600 Gb/s wavelengths with PSE-3 technology.   

Although service provider and web-scale operators need to consider the capacity, density, power and availability timeline of these SFF appliance products, equally if not more important is the software that enables easy installation, integration and programmability throughout the life cycle of the deployment. Things like zero-touch provisioning, open APIs, YANG modeling and streaming telemetry are all critical to enabling network automation and reduced operational costs and complexity.

We look forward to seeing these new products become available between now and OFC 2019.  It should be great fun!  See you in sunny San Diego - again!

Safe Travels Everyone! 

Posted: 15 March 2018 by Tim Doiron, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networking, ACG Research | with 0 comments

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.
 Security code

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC)  or its sponsors.