Microsoft, Facebook Form Co-Packaged Optics Collaborative

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Two Silicon Valley giants have joined forces to promote open standards that will spur manufacturing and adoption of co-packaged optics.

Data center architectures are growing at a rapid rate, and switch designs are evolving to support greater networking demands. Technical challenges associated with these demands have the potential to affect the adoption of future technologies if left unaddressed. Co-packaged optics and ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) have the potential to address these challenges by reducing the length of the switch-optic interconnects, thereby lowering the power consumption of the switch-optic electrical I/O.

The collaboration intends to provide open specifications for design elements, including the electrical signaling interface, optical standard, optical module management interface, and reliability requirements. When complete, the open specifications will enable the industry to develop a set of solutions involving switch and ASIC manufacturers, optics suppliers, CMs, and others that will create the final package that can then be attached to the switch PCB. The collaboration has targeted the 51T switch generation as the tipping point for industry adoption of co-packaged optics.

Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. have formed the Co-Packaged Optics (CPO) Collaboration to address technical challenges with the goal of the adoption of common design elements that will provide guidance for suppliers in the design and manufacturing of co-packaged optics. CPO’s intention over time is to enable an open and diverse ecosystem.

“The Co-Packaged Optics Collaboration will provide a customer-driven, system-level view of requirements for co-packaged optics,” said Katharine Schmidtke, who is director of technology sourcing at Facebook and is responsible for the company’s optical technology strategy. “By sharing the specifications, we aim to develop a diverse and innovative supplier ecosystem.”

“Providing the industry with a customer-supported set of requirements will create a stable, cooperative environment where suppliers can address one of the optical industry’s most important technical challenges,” said Jeff Cox, partner director of network architecture at Microsoft and executive director of the CPO Collaboration.

Sameh Boujelbene, Dell’Oro Group senior director, said the technology is one for which the end-user community has been waiting. “Co-packaged optics have been a hot topic in the industry, but until today there has been a lack of a cohesive end-user voices for their need,” he said. “The CPO Collaboration initiated by Microsoft and Facebook clearly indicates that the end-user community is ready for the industry to develop this technology.”

Published: March 2019
BusinessAmericasMicrosoftFacebookcollaborationASICco-packaged optics collaborationOpticsintegrated circuitsoptical switcheslight speed

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