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

OFC 2020 - Preview and Predictions

By Andrew Schmitt, Cignal AI

Andrew Schmitt from Cignal AI has compiled a list of what to watch at OFC and what announcements to expect:

5th Gen Coherent 800Gbps & 80GBaud +

This technology is the most sophisticated hardware of OFC, and companies must make substantial investments and execute skillfully in both the DSPs and optical components to succeed. 5th generation coherent requires vertical integration - full ownership of the technology stack - to achieve market success.

Both Ciena and Infinera announced 5th gen coherent solutions at OFC2019, and we anticipate that the two companies will demonstrate working hardware at this year. Expect news from these and other companies on their roadmaps for the high-end coherent market.

Compact Modular and Disaggregation Trends

Cisco, Ciena, and Infinera lead the market in shipments of compact modular.  These small form factor WDM systems began as solutions for data center interconnect (DCI) but evolved to be the cornerstone of new transport network designs for all types of operators. Vendors added telco features, refreshed the software with open APIs, and made the chassis modular to bring new functions and allow upgrades. OFC should provide news on system improvements by vendors to broaden their market reach.

4th Generation Coherent 400ZR/ZR+/802.1ct

Pluggable coherent is gaining momentum as operators seek to reduce the cost of transport and eliminate standalone transponder hardware. Component suppliers, hardware vendors, and network operators are all trying to leverage investments in 400ZR to address a broader range of speeds and reaches. Arista titled this effort ZR+ and the name stuck. Standardization is currently underway in OpenROADM, IEEE, and other forums.

The number of component companies targeting this market continues to grow, and OFC should provide details on how they plan to go to market. Expect a wave of 4th gen coherent demonstrations and announcements as DSPs and modules start sampling and more vendors show plans for pluggable coherent solutions.

IPoDWDM Gets Traction

The IP-over-DWDM trend, long advocated by router vendors, is starting to be taken seriously. New distributed and open software-based control and management, open line systems, and the decline of interest in OTN and other layer-1 switching schemes have removed barriers. Incumbent operators are planning to build 5G packet networks and cable MSOs looking to deploy whitebox servers, switches, and pluggable coherent optics.

Client Optics

Despite the availability of Ethernet switching silicon and QSFP-DD modules, 400GbE shipments have failed to materialize. Existing 400GbE optical solutions are not yet price-competitive against these low-cost alternatives based on inexpensive 100 Gbs optics. More interesting is the wide variety of companies with solutions to move optical interfaces on-chip. This will be a hot topic at OFC, with several startups presenting papers and sharing plans at symposiums.

Onward to OFC

Given all these developments, OFC 2020 will continue to set the direction of the optical communication industry for the year ahead. Cignal AI will distill OFC’s vast activity and announcements into analysis to share with our clients in the weeks following the show.

Download the full report at Cignal AI.


Posted: 25 February 2020 by Andrew Schmitt, Cignal AI | 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.