The Dawn of 400G

Created January 8, 2020
Guest Blog

The beginning of a new year may bring with it resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle, to spend more time with family or to take up a new hobby. For our industry, the resolution may be that 2020 is the year that 400G moves out of the lab and into mass production!

ProLabs has been tracking trends in 400G to understand how transceiver technology will impact our customers. The development of 400G has followed a similar path of 100G adoption. The adoption of the QSFP28 form factor drove the adoption of 100G by offering high density and lower power consumption in comparison to other technologies on the market. Early name brand and white box OEM entrants are deploying the QSFP56-DD (or QSFP-DD) form factor in first generation switch models. In addition to the common QSFP transceiver footprint, the QSFP-DD also exhibits a relatively lower power consumption in comparison to other 400G transceiver technologies.

The OSFP and CFP8 form factors will not necessarily go the way of the HD DVD, but will likely remain a complementary part of the 400G equation to meet applications not supported by QSFP-DD. As is the case with QSFP8 form factor, the QSFP-DD form factor has physical space constraints that limit internal components for longer links or coherent optics operations.

400G transceiver standards have developed to meet link distances and architecture demands of today’s high-performance networks.  The first standards widely deployed will take advantage of PAM4 modulation to leverage existing network architectures.

Link Distance 400G Transceiver/Cable Types
≤ 3 meter (Top of Rack)Direct Attached Cables (DAC)
Active Optical Cables (AOC)
SR8 (Short Reach) Transceivers
≤ 20 meter (Leaf or End of Row)Active Optical Cables (AOC)
SR8 (Short Reach) Transceivers
≤ 500 meter (Spine)DR4
≤ 1000 meter (Core)FR4
≥ 1KMLR4

Additional 400G transceiver standards are in development that will offer more options for data center interconnect and to aggregate 100G and 200G into 400G core networks.

400G is here: ProLabs’ resolution is to help network operators understand this new technology and the implications 400G upgrades have on the network.

By Ray Hagen, Americas Product Manager at ProLabs


This article was written
by Ray Hagen

Ray Hagen is the Americas Product Manager at ProLabs and is responsible for leading the US product portfolio and bringing new products to market. He is one of the ProLabs technology and solutions experts and leads on understanding technology and manufacturing capabilities as well as creating marketing content for ProLabs, trade media, and direct to customer channels. He is available to speak on 5G, 100G, data centres, and the benefits of compatible solutions. After graduating from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota with a masters degree in telecommunications, Ray has gained nearly 20 years’ of experience in the telecommunications, managed hosting & colocation, and high technology industries. After working in a variety of manager and account roles for 10 years at ADC, Ray became product Manager at VISI in 2008, executing business plans and developing sales support processes. He joined ProLabs in November 2015 and has gained a strong background in new product development and product application support.