Zarlink touts first optical cable assembly with QSFP terminations

Nov. 13, 2007
NOVEMBER 13, 2007 -- QSFP-to-QSFP cables target InfiniBand dual data rate (DDR) and 10-Gigabit Ethernet applications, with a clear technology path towards quad data rate (QDR), say Zarlink representatives.

NOVEMBER 13, 2007 -- Zarlink Semiconductor Inc. (search for Zarlink) will be demonstrating its expanded ZLynx active optical cable portfolio, including cable assembly devices with integrated quad small form-factor pluggable (search for QSFP) terminations, at this week's SC07 show.

ZLynx products will be demonstrated with AMD, Mellanox, Myricom, QLogic, and Woven Systems. Zarlink's optical cable assembly products also will be part of OpenFabric Alliance's conference-wide InfiniBand and low-latency Ethernet fabric connection to the SCinet network.

"Zarlink's expanded ZLynx product family now includes optical cable assemblies with traditional CX4 connectors as well as cables with integrated QSFP-to-QSFP terminations," reports Dr. Marco Ghisoni, ZLynx product manager, Zarlink Optical Solutions. "Our new ZLynx cables combine market-proven optical cable assembly and QSFP expertise for today's InfiniBand DDR [dual data rate] and XAUI 10-GigE applications, while supporting a clear technology path to meet future InfiniBand QDR [quad data rate] requirements."

Zarlink says its ZLynx products provide installers and operators with unmatched reach, weight, and flexibility advantages versus multi-strand copper cable assemblies. According to the company, its CX4 terminated devices were the industry's first optical cables to be tested and accepted by the Infiniband Trade Association (IBTA) as being compliant with the InfiniBand architecture specification.

ZLynx cable assemblies are capable of aggregated 20-Gbit/sec transmission in both directions by combining four ultra-high capacity (5 Gbits/sec/channel), independent fiber transmit and receive channels into a single connector. Standard CX4 terminated ZLynx optical cables allow ease-of-use with most equipment chassis, meaning performance advantages can be realized without any server, system, or network hardware upgrades, says the company. The QSFP-terminated ZLynx cable offers the end-user further improvements in signal integrity performance.

"The AMD Opteron processor has long been a processor of choice in the High Performance Computing market, in large part due to its extreme scalability," explains David Rich, director of marketing, HPC at AMD and president of the HyperTransport Consortium. "AMD sees customer value in an innovative active optical cable solution, like Zarlink's ZLynx products, to build scalable, large node-count clusters while helping reduce the total HPC solution cost in infrastructure [and] power and significantly improving cable management."

"The growing demand for high bandwidth, low-latency HPC solutions is driving the need for 40-Gbit/sec InfiniBand," adds Thad Omura, vice president of product marketing for Mellanox Technologies. "The demonstration of Mellanox ConnectX IB HCAs and Zarlink's ZLynx QSFP optical cable product showcases the evolution of the InfiniBand ecosystem towards QDR technology."

"Myricom has been using Zarlink quad-fiber transceivers in our products since 2004, and has been very pleased with their performance and reliability," notes Dr. Chuck Seitz, Myricom founder and CEO. "We expect Zarlink's cost-effective QSFP-terminated fiber cables to become popular both for 10-Gigabit Ethernet applications and for HPC clusters; thus, we are augmenting our product line with QSFP versions of Myri-10G NICs and switches."

"Zarlink has been a valuable partner in QLogic's HPCtrack alliance program and we're pleased to demonstrate ZLynx active optical cables complementing our newly introduced high-performance CTO Technology Officer for InfiniBand Products, QLogic Computer Systems Group. "The ZLynx family of optical cables with CX4 and QSFP terminations is essential in bridging current-generation InfiniBand solutions to new denser physical layer form-factors like QSFP."

ZLynx cables also will be included in the OpenFabric Alliance conference-wide InfiniBand and low-latency Ethernet fabrics. ZLynx cables will provide infrastructure InfiniBand links in the SCinet core InfiniBand network. SCinet is a very high-performance production quality and experimental network used to demonstrate products supporting supercomputing and grid computing applications.

Zarlink's ZLynx cables with industry-standard CX4 connectors are now shipping in volume exclusively to lead customers, with general availability planned for early 2008. ZLynx cables with QSFP-to-QSFP terminations supporting InfiniBand DDR and XAUI 10-Gigabit Ethernet are now available for sampling, with volume production planned for next year, reports the company.

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