SWDM Alliance targets data center wideband multimode fiber use

Sept. 22, 2015
As a sign of the building momentum behind wideband multimode fiber (WBMMF), nine companies have joined to form the SWDM Alliance. The group will attempt to accelerate the development and use of Shortwave Wavelength Division Multiplexing (SWDM) technology, including CWDM optical transceivers compatible with the four-wavelength properties of WBMMF as well as the fiber itself.

As a sign of the building momentum behind wideband multimode fiber (WBMMF), nine companies have joined to form the SWDM Alliance. The group will attempt to accelerate the development and use of Shortwave Wavelength Division Multiplexing (SWDM) technology, including CWDM optical transceivers compatible with the four-wavelength properties of WBMMF as well as the fiber itself.

WBMMF aims to replace parallel multimode fiber in four-wavelength applications and reduce fiber count in other scenarios that will require more than four fibers, including upcoming 400 Gigabit Ethernet. The fiber generally supports transmission of four wavelengths in the 850-nm to 950-nm range. WBMMF also is backwards compatible with conventional OM4 multimode fiber, which means data center and enterprise network managers can deploy the fiber now for 10 Gigabit Ethernet requirements and leave it in place to support future data rate upgrades.

The SWDM Alliance says it will focus initially on 40 Gigabit Ethernet (4x10 Gbps) and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (4x25 Gbps) requirements. It would be logical for the group to expand its focus to 400 Gigabit Ethernet as those specifications solidify and as the necessary optical transceiver technology becomes available.

"Data center operators have already invested in duplex MMF infrastructure for their 10-Gbps deployments," said Vladimir Kozlov, CEO of Lightcounting Market Research. "Using SWDM technology to maximize the utility of those duplex deployments is an example of how equipment providers can offer innovative, cost-effective upgrades to the higher data rates that are now required."

Founding members of the SWDM Alliance include CommScope (NASDAQ: COMM), Corning (NYSE: GLW), Dell, Finisar (NASDAQ: FNSR), Chinese IT infrastructure provider H3C Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei, Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR), Lumentum (NASDAQ: LITE), and OFS. CommScope and OFS recently unveiled their WBMMF offerings (see "CommScope intros LazrSPEED 550 WideBand Multimode Fiber" and "OFS offers Laserwave FLEX WideBand multimode fiber"). Finisar demonstrated VCSEL-based SWDM optical transceivers at OFC 2015 this past March (see "OFC 2015 Reporter's Notebook: Day 2").

The SWDM Alliance says it will stay out of standards-making and does not plan to create an optical module multisource agreement (MSA). The group also will avoid market segmentation, pricing, and competitive issues.

More information about the SWDM Alliance can be found at http://www.swdm.org.

For more information on optical modules and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer's Guide.

About the Author

Stephen Hardy | Editorial Director and Associate Publisher

Stephen Hardy has covered fiber optics for more than 15 years, and communications and technology for more than 30 years. He is responsible for establishing and executing Lightwave's editorial strategy across its digital magazine, website, newsletters, research and other information products. He has won multiple awards for his writing.

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