Microsoft, Facebook form Co-Packaged Optics Collaboration

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), two companies that stand to benefit in the future if the technology community can figure out a way to efficiently and economically co-package optics and switching silicon, have decided to help the technology development process along. The two mega data center operators have launched the Co-Packaged Optics (CPO) Collaboration. The CPO will aim to enable the development of common design elements that will guide technology vendors in the design and manufacturing of co-packaged optics approaches.

Mar 15th, 2019

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), two companies that stand to benefit in the future if the technology community can figure out a way to efficiently and economically co-package optics and switching silicon, have decided to help the technology development process along. The two mega data center operators have launched the Co-Packaged Optics (CPO) Collaboration. The CPO will aim to enable the development of common design elements that will guide technology vendors in the design and manufacturing of co-packaged optics approaches.

As has been discussed at several industry events over the past several years, including OFC 2019 in San Diego last week, the transmission rates future generations of switching silicon will require will outstrip the capabilities of copper traces. Efforts such as the specifications developed by the Consortium for On-Board Optics (COBO) to enable the positioning of optical transceivers closer to the switching silicon have aimed to address this reality. However, technologists and users agree that co-packaging silicon and photonic elements will provide the most efficient way to handle the needs of high-speed silicon I/O. Microsoft and Facebook say the advent of the 51-Tbps switch generation will mark the point at which such co-packing will be required.

To help meet this deadline, the CPO effort will aim to define open specifications for such elements as the electrical signaling interface, optical standard, optical module management interface, and reliability requirements. "The Co-Packaged Optics Collaboration will provide a customer-driven, system-level view of requirements for co-packaged optics," said Katharine Schmidtke, director, Technology Sourcing, at Facebook. "By sharing the specifications, we aim to develop a diverse and innovative supplier ecosystem."

"Providing the industry with a customer-supported set of requirements will create a stable, cooperative environment where suppliers can address one of the optical industry's most important technical challenges," added Jeff Cox, partner director, Network Architecture, Microsoft and executive director of the CPO Collaboration. "As co-founders of the Co-Packaged Optics Collaboration, Microsoft and Facebook invite customers and suppliers to join and collaborate with us."

Those interested in participating should send an email to info@copackagedoptics.org. The CPO will operate as a project of the Joint Development Foundation.

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