ECOC Reporter's Notebook, Day 3

Here are a few tidbits to wrap up the event. More on PAM4, 64Gbaud, and whether the good times will roll for much longer.

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Here are a few tidbits to wrap up the event.

Menara Networks has its eyes on market expansion in the wake of its acquisition by IPG Photonics. The company expects to expand into coherent transmission – including the development of its own DSP. The company got its start in electronic dispersion compensation technology, so it has signal processing in its DNA. IPG, meanwhile, has both EDFA and Raman amplification capabilities in house already.

The pluggable 100-Gbps PAM4 data center interconnect transceivers Inphi and Microsoft announced at OFC this past March should begin shipping by the end of this year. Inphi, of course, has supplied the necessary chips as well as a reference design for the 4x25G module; a contract manufacturer takes the ball from there. An Inphi source said the company likely would share the reference design with others if there is interest.

However, Inphi is focused more on developing the next generation of PAM4 silicon, which appears will be in a 4x100G configuration. Inphi will have a lot of company, potentially; the Inphi exec said he expects six or seven other companies are working on 100G-per-channel PAM4 silicon. (AppliedMicro demonstrated such a device in a meeting room on the show floor.) Nevertheless, he believes Inphi will be among the first to market.

Meanwhile, Inphi showed off 8x50G PAM4 technology for 400 Gigabit Ethernet applications in a CFP8. The chips used in the demo should be in production in the next couple of months.

Technology for 64Gbaud and as much as 600-Gbps coherent transmission appeared in several forms at the show. In addition to the micro-ICR from NeoPhotonics I described the first day, Finisar unveiled a competing product. Inphi, meanwhile, debuted a 64-Gbaud dual-channel linear TIA/VGA amplifier. Lumentum displayed a 45/64-Gbaud lithium niobate modulator that adheres to specifications in the OIF’s HB-PMQ modulator agreement.

Adam Carter, chief commercial officer of Oclaro, thinks the current upturn in the fortunes of optical components and subsystems companies has legs, particularly compared to some of the previous brief spikes seen in the past. The data center operators who are driving much of the revenue make money much more quickly on their optical investment than traditional mainstream service providers, he says. The other great demand driver, China, appears a steady catalyst as well. Much of the 100G technology at the heart of product shipments is difficult for low-cost manufacturers to replicate, never mind commoditize, particularly if they’re not vertically integrated. He foresees capacity constraints for premium technology continuing through next year.

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