Active optical cable from Luxtera reaches up to 4 km

MARCH 24, 2009 -- Luxtera uses silicon CMOS photonics and singlemode fiber to support long-range interconnects.

MARCH 24, 2009 -- Luxtera (search Lightwave for Luxtera) says it is releasing the world's longest active optical cable (AOC). Extending up to 4 km, the Blazar 40-gigabit InfiniBand and Ethernet-ready cable meets growing demand from data centers for long-range connectivity. By providing virtually unlimited reach, the company claims, Blazar enables set up of larger clusters and deployment across multiple floors, rooms, and buildings.

The AOC utilizes Luxtera's silicon CMOS photonics technology and singlemode fiber to overcome the reach restrictions associated with existing vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) and multimode fiber technologies. According to the company, current multimode fiber solutions are limited up to 100-m reach with conventional OM2 fiber at more than twice the cost of singlemode fiber.

Unlike traditional optics that utilize VCSELs and multimode fiber for short connections, and edge-emitting lasers and singlemode fiber for long reach, the silicon CMOS photonics-based single-chip transceivers support any distance from 1 m to 4 km utilizing the same transceiver.

"There is an increasing need in data centers for low-cost, longer-reach cables that provide layout design flexibility and yet maintain the multilane, multigigabit capability of today's fastest interconnect fabrics," says Bob Ciotti, chief architect of NASA's Advanced Supercomputing center. "We have an immediate need for optical active cables that economically deliver the reach required to interconnect systems in large computing rooms, between different floors and multiple buildings in a campus environment."

A recent report by Information Gatekeepers Inc. (IGI; search Lightwave for Information Gatekeepers) forecasts that the cable market will exceed $8.5 billion from 2009 through 2013. Another recent market forecast by LightCounting (search Lightwave for LightCounting) states that "the active optical cable is a rare market that will grow throughout the forecasting period as AOCs increasingly replace copper links."

"Active optical cable has made significant inroads in the data center in the last 18 months, being lighter, cheaper, and often more reliable than copper links connecting equipment," says Brad Smith, senior vice president and analyst at LightCounting. "Luxtera's extended-reach Blazar shows how the optical industry is meeting the IT industry's growing requirements for active optical cable."

Luxtera is now shipping Blazar active optical cables in multiple lengths from 2 m to 4 km. The company will demonstrate the extended reach of Blazar at OFC/NFOEC 2009 in San Diego, March 24-26, 2009, Booth #3518.

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