Beyond 400G: The Prospects for 800G, Terabit Pluggables, On-Board Optics, and Co-Packaged Optics


In this report, CIR analyzes the new 800G-and-above technologies and assesses their market potential.  The coverage of this report is of the three main development programs in this area.  The most conventional is to create an 800G pluggable transceiver which will be the natural successor 400G.  This project has been taken on (somewhat paradoxically) by what used be the 25G Ethernet group, as well as by a largely Chinese group who plan to deliver an 800 MSA.

The other two research programs are much more radical.  Specifically, they dispose with pluggability and deliver high data rates on a board.  The point here is to move the ASIC and the optics closer to each other to reduce power consumption, the major factor constraining high data rate networking at the present time.  One strategy is on-board optics, which migrates the optics from the pluggable transceiver to a board.  The other version is co-packaged optics, in which the optics and the chip share a package.

Both these board approaches have existed in simple forms for more than a decade — often in connection with supercomputers or the largest routers.  They have proved difficult to implement and the markets that can implement them for this kind networking have proved stubbornly niche-like.  Indeed, there would no need for this kind of embedded optics if it wasn’t for the speed at which bandwidth is under demand.  In not so many years’ time 51.2Tbps switching will demand new ways of interconnecting optics and electronics.

Although the technologies we discuss in this report are novel, we provide a quantitative and qualitative forecast of the revenues they are likely to generate, along with how revenues are likely to change under a variety of scenarios. We also discuss the challenges that networking at 800G face with device complexity and size, power consumption, and thermals. Finally, the report profiles the leading vendors and their strategies active in this area, as well as the standards and MSA activity that is emerging the new high-speed networking sector.

This report will be available on late July 2020

Table of Contents

Chapter One Data Beyond 400G: Real Need or Science Project?
1.1 Power consumption: Devil in the detail
1.2 Cloud providers: Growing market power
1.2.1 How much power do cloud providers have to shape the hardware market
1.3 Edge computing and its impact on bandwidth demand
1.4 COVID-19 and the bandwidth explosion
1.5 Need for reduced latency
1.5.1 Technology improvements
1.5.2 ASICs
1.5.3 Silicon photonics
1.5.4 Single-photon optics
1.6 Manufacturing issues
1.7 Possible scenarios and forecasts for data networking at 800G and above
1.8 Key points in this Chapter

Chapter Two Next-generation Ethernet: 800G and 1.6T
2.1 The Ethernet Technology Consortium’s 800G standard: An assessment
2.1.1 Proposed technology, standards and its proponents
2.2 Proposal for 800G MSA: China’s entry in 800G
2.3 The path to Terabit networking
2.4 Scenarios, forecasts and timetable for pluggable 800G
2.4 Key points in this Chapter

Chapter Three On-Board Optics: Whither COBO?
3.1 The philosophy of on-board optics
3.2 COBO and its future
3.2.1 The COBO Module: Products to date
3.2.2 Related switching technology: Products to date
3.3 Scenarios, forecasts and timetables for on-board products
3.4 Key points in this Chapter

Chapter Four Is Co-Packaging The Next Big Thing?
4.1 The Co-Packaged Optics Collaboration: Goals and roadmap
4.1.1 Proposed technical solution
4.2 Likely vendor participants in the co-packaged future
4.3 Manufacturing and packaging issues
4.4 Scenarios, forecasts and timetables for co-packaged products
4.5 Key points in this Chapter

Chapter Five: Vendor Strategies for 800G and Above
5.1 Arista
5.2 Broadcom
5.3 Cisco
5.4 Dell
5.5 Facebook
5.6 Fujitsu
5.7 Google
5.8 Hisense
5.9 Huawei
5.10 IBM
5.11 Inphi
5.12 Intel
5.13 Luementum
5.14 Mellanox
5.15 Microsoft
5.16 Ranovus

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