Inphi launches DSPs for long-distance 400Gb networking

Inphi claims its new signaling chips will triple throughput while reducing power draw for transmissions up to 100 kilometers.

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Inphi, a developer of high-speed data interconnects, announced it has begun sampling its new Canopus coherent digital signal processor (DSP), which it claims reduces power draw by up to 75 percent and triples the throughput of data over fiber networks, especially over long distances.

The Canopus processor comes on a plug-in module about the size of a cigarette lighter that goes in existing networking equipment. The chip is built on a 7nm manufacturing process, and its silicon geometry delivers over 75 percent reduction in DSP power dissipation and size as compared to the current generation of coherent DSPs.

Coherent optical transmission is a technique for transporting considerably more information through a fiber optic cable, and is especially popular when transporting over long distances. It uses modulation and phases of the light to amplify transmission. A DSP is often needed to manage and clean up the photonics.

As data centers transition from 100 gigabit Ethernet to 400Gb, they find challenges supporting the longer distances for metro and long haul connections between data centers and clients. The bandwidth being used is going up 40 percent to 50 percent on an annual basis, according to Narimen Yousefi, senior vice president for Coherent DSP at Inphi.

Optical fiber connectivity over long distances is different than inside data centers, he notes. “Inside data centers it can go up to 10 kilometers, but it doesn’t scale when you have to transport across 100 kilometers. Then you have to use coherent detection,” he said.

To connect data centers, they use what are known as data center interconnects (DCI), which use coherent interconnects but have a very high power draw, which limits the density of switches. At present, the highest density switched line card is 4Tb/sec. But with its 75 percent power dissipation, Canopus will increase transmission to 14Tb/sec.

Canopus’ power-efficient and high-performance DSP architecture implements probabilistic shaping, a technique that maximizes data rate at longer fiber distances and delivers lower deployment cost per bit. For the first time, coherent pluggables are powered with probabilistic shaping technology.

Canopus is built on Inphi’s M200 coherent DSP, so it is coming from a mature product, not a new, unproven technology. It also means backward compatibility with other coherent Inphi solutions for 100G and 200G deployments.

Canopus supports 400G ZR, which is broadly supported by cloud operators, service providers and OEMs and is being standardized in the Optical Internetworking Forum facilitating multi-vendor interoperability for gear with up to 120km span. This means that there is an interoperable standard for OEMs and carriers, so they don’t need to use identical brands on both ends of their connection. So long as there are 400Gb ZR modules on both ends, it does not matter who the vendor is.

Canpous is being sampled to partners now, and the company expects it to come to market in the second half of next year.

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