The Consortium for On-Board Optics (COBO) is on target to complete its specifications work by the year end. The work will then enter a final approval stage that will take up to three months.
On-board optics is seen as a promising way to increase the input-output of systems by overcoming the faceplate density limitations when using pluggable optics. On-board optics have been available for years but vendors have had to use proprietary products. The goal of COBO, first announced in March 2015 and backed by such companies as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Finisar and Intel, is to develop a technology roadmap and common specifications that ensure interoperability.
COBO has also set up a Coherent Working Group that will meet for the first time in December. The Working Group is tasked with showing how on-board optics could be used for long-distance links using coherent detection technology.
Brad Booth, the chair of COBO and principal architect for Microsoft’s Azure Global Networking Services, says that bringing optics inside systems raises a different set of issues compared to pluggable optical modules. “If you have a requirement for 32 ports on a faceplate, you know mechanically what you can build,” says Booth.
With on-board optics, the focus is less about size considerations and more about the optical design itself and what is needed to make it work. There is also more scope to future-proof the design, something that cannot be done so much with pluggable optics, says Booth.
COBO is working on a 400-gigabit optical module based on the 8-by–50 gigabit interface. The design will support multi-mode and single-mode fibre variants. The group has narrowed down the choice of the electrical connector to two candidates and the final selection will be based on the connector’s signal integrity performance and manufacturability.
Also being addressed is how two such modules could be placed side-by-side to create an 800-gigabit (16-by–50 gigabit) design.
By Roy Rubenstein
Consortium for On-Board Optics Website http://cobo.azurewebsites.net