400G Data center interconnect

More bandwith to support content delivery, cloud computing & mirroring of data

Is the beauty of 400G worth the wait for your DCI solution?

The rapid demand growth for more bandwidth in DCI solutions to support content delivery, cloud computing and mirroring of data, is encouraging enterprises and service providers to step up their connectivity solutions to 100G. But while most organisations are more than ready to take the leap and reap the benefits of 100G for Metro and DCI solutions, others are still hesitating. The reason? 400G connectivity solutions are expected to wait just around the corner.

While 100G is the current benchmark for high-capacity Data Center Interconnect (DCI), Metro and Distributed Access applications, the general availability of 400G might not be too far away. In the same way that all of today’s data center equipment come with 100G ports, we can assume that most high-end switches sold in about two years’ time will be 400G-ready.

Kent Lidström, CTO at Smartoptics, confirms that there are several reasons to be excited about 400G:

– The most obvious reason is the possibility to create networks with higher capacity than today’s 40G and 100G solutions. And while the increased capacity will still be overkill for most enterprise applications, at least in the short- to mid-term, we will see media, service, and network providers eager to move on to the updated solutions.

400G brings a new standard

Another great benefit of 400G is that we, for the first time since the introduction of 10G, will see the birth of a new optical connectivity standard. The new standard, named 400ZR, has been defined by the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) to secure interoperability between systems from different vendors.

– Traditionally the need for higher bandwidth fiber connectivity, such as 100G, has required proprietary solutions to be aligned at both ends of the fiber. With the new standard it will be possible to create solutions mixing and matching modules from different vendors. In this way 400G ZR will enable more cost-efficient and hopefully less complex solutions, explains Kent Lidström.

400ZR will also give us two new formfactor transceivers: The QSFP-DD (for Quad Small Form Factor Pluggable Double Density) and the OSFP (Octal Small Form Factor Pluggable). Both designed in a similar format to well-known 40G QSFP and 100G QSFP28, but with increased density to support 8 lanes of 50Gb/s. In total 400G.

The migration from 100G to 400G is clear and easy!

So, with a new dawning technology around the corner, the question is: Is there reason to wait for the general availability of 400G for Metro and DCI solutions, and skip the migration to 100G altogether? According to Kent Lidström there is no reason to delay the 100G upgrade. At least not for Smartoptics users:

– To fulfil the market’s wish for cost-efficient, high-capacity 100G DCI solutions, Smartoptics recently launched a new DWDM-based open optical networking solution. Our solutions combine the benefit of PAM4 transceivers with the flexible DCP-M open line system for smart, flexible 100G connectivity.

The new solution is not only backward compatible with 10G, 16G and emerging 32G, it is also designed to work with 400ZR as soon as this is available. Kent explains:

– The market is developing rapidly and there is a great need for future-proof solutions – solutions that help organizations safe-guard their investments. Therefore, we have made sure that everything we bring to market today, to support 100G, will also be fully compliant with tomorrow’s 400G formfactors and solutions. From a connectivity point of view, upgrading the capacity of the Smartoptics open line system will be as easy as unplugging the current transceiver and replacing it with a 400G transceiver.

The conclusion is that organizations can safely invest in today’s 100G solution for their DCI solutions or Metro applications, and rest assured knowing that they will be able to run traffic up to 400G when it’s required.