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The Case for 4x50-Gig Indeterminately

August, 2018

While fibeReality is willing to double down on our wakeup call to the hyperscale data center operators on the need for them to help reconstruct an optical ecosystem for development efforts on 4x100GbE for the long term, and for 50G in the short term, it is important to take a step back on what they could actually live with -- for an indefinite period of time. In the past, we have consistently not only pointed out the technical difficulties in moving to higher data rates, but cases in which we believed executives at these big private networks were disingenuous in suggesting they lacked the means of adaptability in a capacity crunch. Also, when fibeReality saw the initial unviable schemes produced by standards bodies for 400GbE, we were an early advocate for moving down to working on a more conservative 200GbE standard. Moreover, although there is an undeniable enigma associated with...

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Microsoft’s Flatter Data Center Difficulty

September, 2018

Despite the greater efficiency of the newer networks of the hyperscalers, as their infrastructure continues to grow in size, they will gradually start grappling with similar problems (although not necessarily even close to the same degree) as traditional ISPs. Even in early 2016, we wrote: “[T]he emphasis on DCI ‘throwaways’ may be exaggerated – and that [optical] overbuilding may be a means to keep capital costs down, as there would continue to be growth with the older generation deployments. For example, we have learned that certain transport gear installed about three years ago in Google’s network has not been removed, yet.” Besides dealing with multiple layers of networking, another concern for operators, such as Verizon, has been to avoid “putting too many eggs in one basket,” which especially hit home after 9/11. One of Microsoft’s ideas, which still remains only...

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Inphi’s COLORZ: New Buyer Constrictions

September, 2018

Although Microsoft’s major push to try to create a market for Inphi’s COLORZ solution was memorable, it was unsuccessful, as the former has remained the only customer so far. In fibeReality’s opinion, the lack of traction by the module is more than Microsoft’s unique optical networking proclivity, and so, although we are inclined to believe it will likely be a buyer of the 400G version as well, the technological limitations of the product, in general, have resulted in significantly less purchasing than would have been expected by the champion/development partner. Clearly, Inphi has wanted to give the impression for a while that there would be at least one other major purchaser of the device, and we thought that Amazon, given its positioning of data centers, most resembled Microsoft, and thus, would be in the running. The problem is that there may be a good reason why Amazon has...

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400G: Impulse to View Rate in a Vacuum

September, 2018

At ECOC this week, the aspect that will almost assuredly not come across is that large optical component firms have to be asking themselves whether major development efforts on high-end optical components, especially on the client side, is logical anymore. So, regarding work on FR4, DR4, etc. modules -- why would they not be clobbered on price to the same extent as happened with the QSFP28 on the CWDM devices? Making it even worse is that at least for the next three-years, the customers that need 400GbE will just be the big-four hyperscalers. Only two of them have demonstrated a willingness to make investments, which have been strategic at best, in an environment in which capital is hardly plentiful. A further indication of the slow uptake on the 400G client is that a number of the optical system suppliers are looking for a modification on the use of one of the standards. In adding in...

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OFC 2019: Nine Additional Odds and Ends

March, 2019

Before getting to the subject of this article, I need to point out the most significant and outstanding event at OFC: Mitch Fields at the “Special Chair Session” on the “Role of Optics in Future Data Center and Computing Applications.” He moved and wowed everyone in that packed room as he talked about his courageous battle with brain tumor, as he thanked former optical engineers who have worked on his novel form of treatment, and as he validated his position as one of the top engineers in the optics business. Ken Chang, the following speaker, aptly stated that such an inspiring presentation helps all of us to keep things in perspective. Glenn Wellbrock of Verizon at the “Broadband Acceleration Seminar” of the Broadband Forum pointed out what separates a serious 5G player from the rest of the wireless providers in the US -- that it is deploying fiber as quickly as it arrives...

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