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25 November 2011
Silicon photonics specialist Luxtera has announced a 4x28Gbps transceiver, which is sampling to customers. The chip is being aimed at active optical cables, system backplanes and high-performance computing (HPC).
Molex, which bought Luxtera's active optical cable business in January 2011, is packaging the chip and the laser to make active optical cable products. Luxtera will package the chip and laser in a housing as an OptoPHY product, which it already offers at lower speeds. The company will sell the 100Gbps OptoPHY for embedded applications such as platform backplanes and HPC.
It is the enterprise vendors making switches, routers and blade servers that are most seriously considering adopting optical backplanes for their next-generation platforms, says Luxtera. System vendors are moving their backplanes from 15Gbps to 28Gbps. “It is pretty obvious that building an electrical backplane at this data rate will be extremely challenging,” said Marek Tlalka, director of marketing at Luxtera.
Operating at 25Gbps per channel, the chip supports 100 Gigabit Ethernet and Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) Infiniband. The ability to go to 28Gbps per channel means that the transceiver can also support the OTN (optical transport network) standard as well as proprietary backplane protocols that add overhead to the basic 25Gbps data rate. In addition the chip supports the Optical Internetworking Forum’s short-reach and very-short-reach interfaces that define the connection between an ASIC and an optical module. 
The chip is also suited to some of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics (IEEE) Next Generation 100Gbps Optical Ethernet Study Group standards that are being defined. These interfaces will cover a reach of 30m to 2km.
By Roy Rubenstein