by Kalar Rajendiran, Alphawave Semi (edited by Alan J Weissberger)
The telecommunications industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by the increasing demand for high-speed internet and data services. This growth has created a surge in traffic on optical networks, leading to the development of new telecom network architectures that can support the increasing demand for bandwidth.
Optical networking technologies, such as coherent optics, have traditionally been developed for telecom applications. However, with the growth of hyperscale data centers and the increasing demand for high-speed networking, these technologies are now also being adopted in data center applications. Traditionally, data centers have used copper or short-range optical cables to connect servers and storage devices within the same data center. However, as data volumes continue to grow and data center interconnect (DCI) requirements increase, coherent optical networking is becoming an attractive option for data centers. With coherent optical networking, data centers can achieve higher data transmission rates over longer distances, resulting in increased data capacity and lower latency. 400G was the first data rate where hyperscale data center applications outpaced telecom applications in the use of coherent optics.
Coherent optics enables the transmission of high-speed data over long distances by using advanced signal processing techniques to mitigate the effects of signal distortion and noise. This technology is essential for supporting the growing demand for high-speed internet and data services, particularly in areas where traditional copper-based networks are not feasible. This trend is likely to continue and proliferate further going forward, driven by the ongoing growth of cloud computing, big data, AI/ML workloads and other data-intensive applications.
Another driver of the shift towards optical interconnects has been the increasing complexity of satellite networks. As satellite networks become more complex, the need for high-speed, low-latency communication between satellites becomes more important. Optical interconnects are ideal for this type of communication, as they offer very low latency and can support high-speed data transfer between satellites.
Optical telecom synergies have played a significant role in the evolution of inter-satellite communication. Many of the technologies and techniques used in optical telecom networks have been adapted for use in inter-satellite communication. Innovations in optical digital signal processing (DSP) and system automation also offer several optimization opportunities with inter-satellite interconnects. Benefits include:
- Improved Signal Quality: Optical DSP can be used to compensate for impairments in the optical signal, such as chromatic dispersion and polarization mode dispersion. This can improve the quality of the signal and reduce the bit error rate (BER), enabling high-quality communications over long distances.
- Reduced Latency: System automation can also be used to optimize the routing of data between satellites, minimizing the number of hops and reducing latency. This can improve the responsiveness of the system and enhance the user experience.
- Power-efficient Modulation Formats: Optical DSP can enable the use of power-efficient modulation formats, such as pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM), which can reduce the power consumption of the inter-satellite links while maintaining high data rates.
- Energy-efficient Signal Processing: Optical DSP can also be optimized to perform signal processing operations more energy-efficiently. For example, parallel processing and low-power digital signal processing techniques can reduce the power consumption of the signal processing circuitry.
At the recent Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) conference, Alphawave Semi (located in London, UK) showcased its ZeusCORE XLR test chip during the interoperability demonstration organized by the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF). Alphawave Semi executives Loukas Paraschis, VP of Business Development and Tony Chan Carusone, CTO, presented on high-speed connectivity leadership. Their presentations touched on the growing synergies and optimization opportunities of inter-satellite interconnects and optical telecom through innovations in optical DSP and system automation.
As the volume of data traffic on optical networks continues to increase, it is essential to ensure that the cost of implementing and maintaining these networks remains affordable. This requires a delicate balance between increasing volume and decreasing costs, which can only be achieved through innovation and the development of highly-integrated co-designed solutions. These solutions combine multiple technologies and functions into a single device, reducing the complexity and cost of optical network infrastructure. This approach enables the development of more efficient, cost-effective optical networks that can meet the growing demand for bandwidth and high-speed data transmission.
To learn more about the ZeusCORE, visit the product page.
Cable Labs: Interoperable 200-Gig coherent optics via Point-to-Point Coherent Optics (P2PCO) 2.0 specs