ANTONY SAVVAS CO-PACKAGED OPTICS
CO-PACKAGEDOPTICS THE WAY FORWARD
Co-packaged optics is seen as an effective way of reducing footprints and power requirements for transceivers in data centres, metro networks and a number of other areas. No other technology can solve the thermal and power consumption problems around high-speed opto-electronics, and it is seen as the next big thing, writes Antony Savvas.
T The co-packaged optics markets will be worth around US$345 million by 2026, according to analyst Communications Industry Researchers (CIR), and will rapidly rise to US$2.3 billion by 2030. Companies that are actively working to develop CPO technology and products include ASE Group, Ayar Labs, Broadcom, Cisco, Corning, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Inphi (recently acquired by Marvell), Juniper Networks, Microsoft, POET Technologies, Rain Tree Photonics, Ranovus, Rockley Photonics, Samtec, SENKO, TE Connectivity and vario-optics, among others. Hamid Arabzadeh, CEO of Ranovus, says, “Data centre and cloud traffic are obviously growing by leaps and bounds and power consumption is a very pressing issue. This has a major negative impact on climate change, and data centre operators - particularly the hyperscalers - must contend with rising costs to power their operations and growing heat dissipation issues. “Clearly then, the networking infrastructure must increase in capacity, while maintaining or even lowering its total power consumption and footprint. There is a fixed power consumption budget for networking equipment which will be surpassed in the next two years, with the PMO [present mode of
operation] using higher capacity switch IC and optical modules.”
as well as having lower power SerDes integrated into the switches.”
He says, “Co-packaged optics architecture was conceived to mitigate power consumption and the cost of higher capacity networking switch systems.” Co-packaged optics refers to the co- packaging of the optics with the switch on the same substrate/circuit board. Unlike optical pluggable modules which are “plugged” into the faceplate of the switch chassis, co-packaging allows “miniaturised modular” optical modules to be integrated onto the same substrate as the switch.
Tiger Ninomiya, senior technologist at SENKO Advanced Components, said, “Co- packaging impacts many components and sub-components within a system. Microsoft and Facebook provided high-level guidance on their views on how to develop a system, and now the industry is responding through the development of specifications and prototypes.” He added, “The industry is very focused on co-packaging for network switches, but it is not limited to switching or networking, with the goal to provide greater bandwidth density with improved energy efficiency for other applications as the technology progresses.” Although CPO is currently associated primarily with data centre transceivers operating at 800G and above, analyst CIR sees opportunities for CPO in edge and metro networking, high-performance computing - CPO has its origins in the supercomputer/high-performance computing arena - and sensors for the automotive, manufacturing and other industries.
SWITCH LEVEL CPO
To achieve this co-packaging you need “radical change” in the way optical modules are built, says Marvell subsidiary Inphi. Traditionally, says Inphi, switches have to drive long copper traces to the front plate of the chassis to drive the pluggable modules. This requires high power SerDes (Serializer/ Deserializer) designs to be integrated into switch ASICs. “In many of the switch chassis designs we also have to include re-timers on the board to boost the signal to the pluggable modules,” said Inphi. “But moving the optical module next to the switches saves a lot of power through eliminating the re-timers,
To reach the aforementioned market revenues, the telecom and computing industry will have to “work quickly”, says CIR, to create new CPO products and standards. That sort of activity has already
| ISSUE 24 | Q2 2021
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