Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The 10X10 MSA: Niche, Distraction or the Right Answer? (Continued)

By Lisa Huff
While Vipul has a point that this new MSA is probably a distraction, it is difficult to deny that there is a market for cost-effective devices with optical reaches between 100m and 10km. In fact, 100m to 300m is the market that multi-mode fiber has served so well for the last 20 years. And, 300m to 2km has been a niche for lower-cost 1310nm single mode products like 1000BASE-LX. So I have a slightly different opinion about this 10x10 MSA and whether it’s a niche, distraction or the right answer.

In a recent article written on Optical Reflection, Pauline Rigby quotes Google’s senior network architect, Bikash Koley. About 100GBASE-SR10, he says 100m isn’t long enough for Google – that it won’t even cover room-to-room connections and that “ribbon fibres are hard to deploy, hard to manage, hard to terminate and hard to connect. We don’t like them.” There is an answer for this ribbon-fiber problem – don’t use it. There are many optical fiber manufacturers that now provide round multi-fiber cables that are only “ribbonized” at the ends for use with the 12-position MPO connector and are much easier to install – Berk-Tek, A Nexans Company, AFL and even Corning have released products that address this concern. But, the 100m optical reach is another matter.

I have to agree with Google about one other thing – 4x25G QSFP+ solutions are at least four years away from reality (and I would say probably even longer). This solution will eventually have the low-cost, low-power and high-density Google requires, but not quick enough. I think something needs to be done to address Google’s and others requirements between 300m and 2km in the short term, but I also believe that it needs to be standardized. There is no IEEE variant that would currently cover a 10x10G single mode device. However, there is an effort currently going on in the IEEE for 40G over SMF up to 2km. Perhaps the members of the MSA should look to work with this group to expand its work or start a new related project to cover 100G for 2km as well? I know this was thrown out of the IEEE before, but so were 1000BASE-T and 10GBASE-T initially.

So what I'm saying is that the market is more than a niche - hundreds of millions of dollars of LOMF sales at 1G and 10G would attest to that. And it's more than a distraction because there is a need. But I don't think it's entirely the right answer without an IEEE variant to back it up.

Let us know what you think.

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