Top 5 Takeaways from the Optical Fiber Communications (OFC) Conference 2022
March 22, 2022
At the recently-wrapped OFC 2022 show, it was clear that participants were ready for a traditional face-to-face conference as energy was high and the event was pleasantly well-attended. We wanted to quickly share our thoughts from the show, particularly for those who couldn’t make it (hope to see you next year!):
- The first takeaway from the show is that there is a showdown building between co-packaged optics (CPO) and pluggable transceivers. Vendors of each technology are strongly supporting their positions but it seems that the general sentiment is there is a path forward to both solutions as the flexibility of plug-in modules is not going to go away.
- As data rates increase, power consumption continues to be the highest level of concern for datacenters and large digital deployment. In the panel, Is Paradigm Shift from Pluggable Optics to Co-Packaged Optics Inevitable in the Next Generation of Datacenter, Brad Booth of Microsoft addressed this point, noting their extreme concern about the issue and their thoughts on the path forward for submerged processing in order to be able to deal with the heat being more efficiently. Discussions between the panel members, which included Matt Travesco of Cisco, were very informative and spirited as there are different views on how to keep up with Moore’s law as 1.6 Tb is just around the corner and plans for 3.2 Tb are in motion.
- Even with all the talk about CPO in the seminars, all of the major vendors were proudly displaying their next generation pluggable transceivers — with live demos of the 1.6 TB version (as presented by Brett Grotelueschen of Source Photonics). While the roadmap shows that CPO is right around the corner, there is still much work to be done.
- Controlling the huge amount of heat being generated in next generation modules, in an efficient way, is clearly very high on every vendor’s mind: most presentations dealing with next gen highspeed communications addressed heat and power dissipation right up front. With the ASP of thermoelectric coolers dropping day over day, their use becomes imperative, as they are more cost effective than the NRE required to design scalable, adaptive uncooled solutions.
- Finally, there was a lot of chatter during the show on chip issues and the impact on optical transceivers. The last couple of years have highlighted the dangers of supply that is dependent on a single specific region. Intel has confirmed recently by announcing a massive investment in manufacturing throughout Europe. The investment totals approximately €33 billion which will include new next generation technology fabs in Germany, Ireland and Italy. This follows two months after a $20 billion investment in 2 new factories in the United States. Though painful lessons have been learned, global supply is improving.
Overall, OFC was a very good show, and a strong indicator that the global challenges the entire industry has been facing are not only being addressed but will be strong drivers for optical communications in the years ahead. … We can’t wait for next year!
– Dwayne Holst, Product Marketing Director, Optoelectronics