800G – but wait we’re just implementing 400G

It seems like only a few years ago we were introducing 100G products. CFP, CFP2, CFP4, CXP, QSFP28…now we are talking about 800G. At this point it is a bit more than talk, 800G is in lab development but not yet in the real world. As such, 400G will not be the “40G story” only ten times faster. Even though 800G is on the horizon 400G will be a work horse unlike the 40G products that were barely launched when 100G took over.  The need for pluggable transceivers is not changing anytime soon and 800G will take a bit more time in development giving 400G plenty of opportunity to establish itself.

400G QSFP-DD and OSFP are coming into their own and will see a significant ramp-up through 2021 and 2022. The need for the robust and rapid advancement of metro and long-haul networks will drive the 400G adoption. Short-reach optics will be the first 800G parts to be deployed in data centers. The expected curve will follow the 100G, 400G development.

What does that mean? 100G saw short and long reach parts relatively quickly in the development cycle but 40km (w/o FEC) and 80km and single lambda 100G parts are just now coming into general availability.

How does that relate to 800G? The complexity of optics is increasing exponentially. 100G single lambda is powering 400G optics (4 x 100G lanes) and similarly will power 800G. Packing all of that in an OSFP or QSFP form factor is a magic trick that the engineers continue to work on. Heat dissipation, port by port power consumption, and forward error correction are all key factors in the successful deployment of 800G.

However, it is not just about a transceiver being ready, it is about switch/router readiness. Beyond port power and heat dissipation issues – is the switch/router ready for 800G? In other words, can the switch support it from a data transmission perspective? Is the backplane enabled, are the processors fast enough, can the switch deliver enough power and cooling to allow the parts to function properly?

We expect to hear more on the timing of 800G transceiver testing and release in the next few months especially as we approach the annual OFC (Optical Fiber Conference). 

As you see 100G and 400G will be the workhorse for the next several years. The realistic adoption of 800G will not be until the earliest late 2022 and most likely not until 2023/24.

We’re closely monitoring 400G and 800G development to ensure we are prepared to deliver the state-of-the-art transceiver and AOC/DAC products as they are ready for deployment.

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