Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Active Optical Cables, Part 2

by Lisa Huff

(If you haven't seen Part 1, you can read it here.)

Avago Technologies (AVGO) had a late entry into the AOC market with its 10GBASE-CX4 replacement and QSFP+ products. But they have a rich history in parallel optics so have quickly come up to speed their products. While they may have been somewhat late to market, Avago has an existing customer base to peddle its wares to.

Finisar’s (FNSR) products include Quadwire and Cwire AOCs to address early adoption of 40G and 100G. Quadwire is Finisar’s mainstream product, both in terms of its use of the VCSEL arrays the company produces in volume at its Texas fab, and in terms of its use of the popular QSFP form factor.

The high end of the Finisar product line is designed to exploit anticipated interest in 100G Ethernet and 12-channel QDR InfiniBand. Cwire offers an aggregate data rate of 150 Gbps and a CXP interface. Not only does this represent the direction of high-end enterprise cluster design, but it allows Finisar to utilize the most integrated VCSEL arrays it manufactures. The 12-channel array also represents the most cost-effective per-laser manufacturing option, allowing Finisar to take advantage of its expertise in designing large VCSEL-arrays. The benefit in high channel count can also be seen in power dissipation. While the single serial channel of Laserwire dissipates 500mW per end, the 12-channel Cwire dissipates less than 3W per end – half the power dissipation per channel.

MergeOptics (now part of FCI) was born of the old Infineon which was once a powerhouse in the optical transceiver markets—both telecom and datacom. It emerged in 2006 with its SFP and then SFP+ products and is now one of the first entrants for 40G and 100G AOCs. Unlike most of its competitors, it is focused on 10G and above products so can bring them to market rather quickly. Its technology is being leveraged for InfiniBand and Ethernet applications.

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