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Data Center Technology Trends at OFC

By Alan Weckel, Founder and Technology Analyst, 650 Group

For the past several years, OFC has become an increasingly important show for the data center networking community. In 2018 we saw many 400 Gbps switch and optics announcements ranging from server aggregation to DCI, as well as hints of next generation SERDES and switch silicon. Vendors see OFC as an important venue for data center announcements and a good opportunity to talk to customers and peers in the Industry. Being the first major show of the year where vendors update their Cloud and next-generation platform strategies helps set the stage for the rest of 2019. We expect many vendor announcements in 2019 - lots of exciting announcements are forthcoming. In particular, we are expecting announcements and demonstrations in the following areas:

112 Gbps SERDES announcements throughout the supply chain

With 56 Gbps SERDES just now starting to ship, vendors are embracing and rapidly developing the next speed in order to meet Cloud demand. 25.6 and 51.2 Tbps platforms will embrace this next generation SERDES technology and hit customer data centers in about 24 months. 2019 will see a host of announcements on next generation 112 Gbit/s SerDes shipments. There will be a lot of design and integration effort in 2019 underway to enable the market to move quickly to 112 Gbit/s SerDes. 

Second generation 400 Gbps products will get announced and help propel the DCI market

Second generation 400 Gbps Ethernet Switch and Router products will begin the demonstration phase.  Generation one was primarily focused on links within the data center (<2km) with major adoption really coming from just two Cloud customers. However, generation two promises network links up to 100 km and should experience widespread adoption. We will see a lot of system and optics demonstrations to support these longer reach distances. This will allow Cloud customers to use the same Ethernet based products that they use in the data center to connect their data center properties together. 

7nm semiconductor offerings will start to replace 16nm and will enable high-density 400 Gbps Ethernet Switches

To date, we only have one 7nm switch ASIC with the rest of products based on 16nm technology. By the year 2020, when the industry gets enough optics volume, the market will move quickly to 400GBit/s chips based on 7nm technologies. Vendors will begin demonstrating products throughout 2019 on this new process geometry. 

Chiplets will become common as Ethernet Switch design will embrace disaggregation

Chiplet semiconductor architectures where switch chips and SerDes are developed separately then packaged together is emerging for next generation offerings in the data center. With 7nm available from major foundries, the market will begin to move in this direction as a way to get towards on-board optics and silicon photonics. Increased product agility, cost, power, products offerings are a benefit of moving towards a chiplet based design.

Alan Weckel, Founder and Technology Analyst at 650 Group, is a leading data center researcher for more than a decade and an enterprise-class switch designer.

See the full Data Center Program at OFC.  5-7 March, San Diego, CA.


Posted: 22 February 2019 by Alan Weckel, Founder and Technology Analyst, 650 Group | with 0 comments

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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.