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Group Releases 400G, 10-km Optical Spec

January 02, 2018

An industry consortium called the CWDM8 MSA Group has released a new optical module specification for high-bandwidth networking applications in campus, data center, enterprise, and metropolitan area networks. It defines 400-gigabit-per-second optical links of up to 10 kilometers over duplex single-mode fiber. And it’s available at www.cwdm8-msa.org.

The CWDM8 in the group’s name stands for eight-wavelength coarse wavelength division multiplexing. The MSA is an acronym for multi-source agreement. Accton, Applied Optoelectronics, Barefoot Networks, Credo Semiconductor, Hisense, Innovium, Intel, MACOM, Mellanox, Neophotonics, New H3C Technologies, and Rockley Photonics are the group’s members.

The group previously released a 400G spec with 2-kilometer reach. That came out in November.

“The CWDM8 MSA was formed to meet the bandwidth and expansion needs of modern data centers and support deployment of 12.8T Ethernet switches and other advanced networking equipment with 50G SERDES,” the group explained. “MSA participants are developing optical link specifications that will enable cost-effective, low power consumption 400G duplex single-mode optics using 50G per wavelength optical NRZ modulation, while maintaining full compatibility with standard 50G PAM4 electrical interfaces. These optical interfaces can be implemented in next-generation module form factors such as QSFP-DD, OSFP, and COBO, and are believed to have significant time to market and performance advantages compared to other approaches.”

Much of the group’s work is based on IEEE standards. But industry players said there was a gap in the market. So CWDM8 group participants came together to the form the consortium in September.

At that time, Yu Li, vice president of data center switching at Huawei, commented: "There is currently no adequate solution in the market to meet our needs for cost-effective and uncooled 400G optical interfaces for 2km and 10km reaches. We welcome the formation of the CWDM8 MSA, which offers proven 50G NRZ technology to enable compact and low-power dissipation form factors for 400G."

Meanwhile, Samuel Liu, director of product line management at Nokia, said: “400G QSFP-DD optics are a key component of Nokia’s FP4 routing platforms. We are excited that the CWDM8 MSA has formed to support our customers’ needs for low-powered, high-density, 400G in both 2 km and 10 km applications. We look forward to working with the CWDM8 member companies enabling the migration to high-density 400G.”

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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