PETER DYKES DATA CENTRE SWITCHING
RAGILE GOES WITH NPO BUT KEEPS AN EYE ON CPO
With the data switch market expected to hit double digit CAGR by 2026, companies with the right products can expect to see healthy revenues. However, getting those products right at a time when technological developments are moving ever faster means manufacturers are having to look to interim as well as longer-term solutions. One such is Ragile Networks , which recently launched a data centre switch with some interesting features. To find out more, Peter Dykes spoke with Ragile Network’s director of product Grant Lai .
A recent report from market analysts Dell’Oro forecasts that the market for data switches will grow at a nearly double-digit CAGR between 2021 and 2026, with 400, 800 and 1600 Gbps speeds driving more than 50% of the market revenues. However, achieving these speeds with commensurate savings in cost and power consumption has raised a number of challenges, not the least of which is optical component packaging. There is no doubt the trend is towards co-packaged optics (CPO) but there is still some way to go. Indeed, it was only in February of this year that the OIF global industry forum released a framework Implementation Agreement for co-packaging, which identified the critical co-packaged applications and their requirements and charted a path for interoperability standards. So what of the interim? The answer would appear to be using a mix of existing technologies, while keeping one eye on future developments. That’s the approach being taken by California-based Ragile Networks Inc, which launched a data centre switch using near-packaged optics (NPO) at the end of 2021. The privately- owned company takes its name from the amalgam of ‘Rapid’ and ‘Agile’,
reflecting its philosophy of being quick to respond to the market, technological developments and customer requirements. The company was established in 2020 and has been building connections with tier one internet companies in the North American region, but is mainly focused on white box data centre switches. With a product design and manufacturing facility in China, Ragile networks also offers joint design and manufacturing (JDM) to its key clients in North America. The RA-BC6932-64X1-DR4 switch, dubbed the ‘Vernal’, is a cloud-scale datacentre switch with NPO and cold plate cooling technology. Driven by 112Gbps SERDES - based 25.6Tbps switch ASIC, the switch boasts ultra-high density, 64-port 400GbE DR4 optics in only 1RU chassis by using SN-MT optic interface. It also provides 8 QSFP-DD form external laser source/remote laser source interfaces at front panel for co-packaged optics module laser input. WHY NPO? Optical Connections asked the company’s director of product Grant Lai, about the reasons behind going for an NPO solution and he replied, “In our roadmap, both NPO and CPO are in the path to the future. We explore on all solutions that
bring value to our customers, it’s just we capitalized our research on NPO first. Compared to traditional architecture, the NPO solution brings the optical modules much closer to the ASIC, it helps to vastly increase the SERDES speed and lower the power consumption. In the foreseeable future, increasing SERDES speed will remain as the mainstream solution to improve switch bandwidth. In a word, the NPO switch can save cost for customers in both procurement and maintenance aspects. We see great potentials in both NPO and CPO solutions, therefore we’ll continue to explore on both routes and bring more successors of Vernal to the industry.” Asked about the company’s plans for the future of its data centre switches, Lai replied, “We believe NPO/ CPO will bring benefits in many aspects like bandwidth, power consumption etc., which is what we are trying to bring to our customers. At OFC 2022, we will debut the next-generation CPO switch demo we developed with our partners. And we also welcome more cooperation with industry to bring more edge-cutting switches.” KEEPING COOL The other interesting feature of the Vernal data centre switch is the cooling system. Rather than a conventional fan-based air-cooling system, Ragile has opted
| ISSUE 28 | Q1 2022
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