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06 July 2012
Avago Technologies' 120 Gbps aggregate bandwidth (12x10Gbps) MiniPod and CXP parallel optics products are now in volume production. The company first detailed the MiniPod and CXP technologies in late 2010, yet many equipment vendors are still to launch their first designs.
The CXP is a pluggable optical transceiver while the MiniPod is Avago's packaged optical engine used for embedded designs. The 22x18mm MiniPod is based on Avago's 8x8mm MicroPod optical engine but uses a 9x9 electrical MegArray connector with its more relaxed pitch.   
Choosing which form factor to use – pluggable or embedded – is largely based on the interface density required. "Certain customers prefer field plugability [of CXP] with its pay-as-you-go and ease of installation features, but are limited on port density due to the number of CXP transceivers that can physically fit on a 19-inch board," said Sharon Hall, product line manager for embedded optics at Avago Technologies. 
Up to 14 CXPs can fit onto a 19-inch board. In contrast some 50 to 100 transmit and receive MiniPod pairs can fit on the 19-inch board. "You have the whole board space to work with," said Hall.
Several vendors have made 25Gbps optical announcements recently. Finisar has demonstrated its board mounted optical assembly that it says can operate at channel speeds of 10, 12, 14, 25 and 28Gbps, while silicon photonics vendors, Luxtera and Kotura, have announced 4x25Gbps optical engines. OneChip Photonics is developing 4x25Gbps photonic integrated circuits for the 100GBASE-LR4 10km standard that can also address short and mid-reach applications 
However, Avago expects 10Gbps-based parallel optics to dominate the marketplace for several years yet. "People are underestimating what is going to be involved in doing 25 gigabit [channels]," said Hall. "Ten gigabit is going to last quite a bit longer because of the price point it provides."
By Roy Rubenstein