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Broadcom End-to-End Optical PAM-4 Supports Next Generation Transceivers

March 23, 2016

We are creating incredible amounts of data every single day, and everyone wants this information delivered to them faster and faster. This is quickly making existing solutions inadequate for coping with the sheer volume of data. The new complete end-to-end optical pulse-amplitude modulation 4 (PAM4) by Broadcom, looks to give network operators and service providers a breathing room by enabling transceiver developments for 40GbE, 100GbE, 200GbE and 400GbE data center interconnects, until new solutions are developed.

Pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM) is a form of signal modulation that encodes message information in the amplitude of a series of signal pulses. With PAM4, it is possible to encode two bits in every symbol so the high frequency content of the signal is half the NRZ (Non-return to zero) equivalent for a given data rate. Until PAM came about, NRZ type encoding was the modulation scheme for data transmission, but it is proving to be insufficient in today's always on and connected digital ecosystem.

As a designer, developer and global supplier of a broad range of analog and digital semiconductor connectivity solutions, the Broadcom Optical PAM-4 platform builds on the experiences the company has in this segment to create an effective optical transceiver to support high-speed data communications between servers and switches for next generation data center networks.

The company announced it will be making a live demonstration of its 56Gb/s PAM-4 PHY and VCSEL technologies along with the latest platform of optics and ICs designed for 40GbE, 100GbE, 200GbE and 400GbE data center interconnects at the Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) 2016 exhibition in Anaheim, California from March 22nd to 24th. The demonstration will also include industry-leading PAM-4 PHY chips supporting 40/100/200GbE over copper cables.

Some of the developments of this technology include: high performance PAM-4 codec with FEC capability; 56Gb/s PAM-4 core used for 40G, 2x50G, 4x50G and 8x50G applications; field proven 56Gb/s VCSEL and PD components; and leading edge laser and photodiode (PD) technologies.

"As the data center interconnects transition to 100GbE and beyond, having a robust 56Gbps PAM-4 PHY is critical to supporting next generation transceivers to meet the increased demand for higher data bandwidth. Leveraging industry-leading PAM-4 technology with unique in-house complementary core competencies, Broadcom now provides the complete optical PAM-4 platform," said Lorenzo Longo, senior vice president and general manager of the Physical Layer Products Division at Broadcom.

Networking equipment and OEMs and transceiver module makers need new technology to accelerate the development of 40/100/200/400GbE solutions, according to Longo, and optic technology is one way of ensuring they will be able to address these capacities. Broadcom can now support new signaling and the next generation transceivers for data center interconnects that are moving beyond 25GbE.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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