As inconceivable as it may seem, our imminent line of 200G and 400G transceivers may not be enough to handle applications with the highest bandwidth requirements in just a few years. This week, it’s been reported that an industry consortium has launched a new multi-source agreement covering 800G optical transceivers. Here is a quick summary of some of the most important points:

Why now?

It is expected that bandwidth needs will require 800G transmission beginning in 2021 and ramping up through 2023. In order to correspondingly ramp up product to get ahead of this demand, the MSA standards groundwork must be laid as soon as possible. It is also considered likely that the IEEE will not have completed and published its 800G Ethernet standard by the time demand for this data rate arises.

What are they focusing on?

The consortium is starting by defining specifications for short-haul applications between 100m and 2km, using PAM4 modulation to support 8x100G and 4x200G transmission. 4x200G is still under study and development, but recent proofs of concept have been quite positive.

These shorter applications are of greatest interest to data centers, who are expected to drive 800G demand, as they have for each previous top data rate.

What will these optics look like?

While certain industry experts have predicted the end of pluggable optics for several years with each higher data rate, it is expected that the majority of initial 800G transceivers will still be pluggable, according to a recent LightCounting report. Possible form factors include OSFP32 or a QSFP-DD variant. However, onboard optics may start to gain traction, as the physical limits of pluggable optics are tested.

When will the standards be published?

Given the amount of study and testing yet to be done, the MSA is not expected to be published until Q4 of 2020, with earliest product expected the following year.

Stay tuned to our blog for more updates as this MSA evolves. In the meantime, contact us today to discuss evaluating our new 400G transceivers.

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