Spectra7 unveils 112 Gbps PAM4 chip for 800G data center interconnects

Oct. 6, 2020
The GC1122 is the latest addition to the company's GaugeChanger product line, and extends the IC's data rate from 56 Gbps PAM4 to 112 Gbps PAM4 per lane.

Spectra7 Microsystems Inc., a provider of high-performance analog semiconductor technology for broadband connectivity markets, has announced its GC1122 IC, designed to support data rates of 112 Gbps, using PAM4 signaling, which are required for 800 Gbps connections. At these data rates, the company notes that active copper cables (ACCs) are anticipated to be deployed for up to 50% of data center network connections.

Per a Spectra7 statement announcing the product: 

As the industry moves to 800 Gbps, it will adopt 112 Gbps PAM4 per lane signaling over 8 lanes. At these ultra-high signal rates, traditional passive copper cables will struggle to reach beyond 1.5 meters. This creates a huge problem for hyperscalers that require longer lengths to serve both switch-to-switch and switch-to-server connections, but do not want to incur the power and cost penalty of optics. 
ACCs enabled with Spectra7’s GC1122 solution will extend copper cable reach 2.5 times, up to 4 meters at a fraction of the cost of optics. Critically, at a time when hyperscale operators are struggling with power consumption and carbon emissions, ACCs using the Spectra7 technology will consume only 200 mW of power per channel, which is up to 12 times lower power than optical solutions.

“We are seeing tremendous interest from every hyperscaler to get sample 800 Gbps cables that are enabled by our new GC1122 solution,” said Spectra7 CEO Raouf Halim. "Both we and our cable partners believe that 800 Gbps will represent a significant acceleration in the growth and adoption of our ACC data center interconnect technology."

The GC1122 is the latest addition to the company's GaugeChanger product line, and extends the IC's data rate from 56 Gbps PAM4 to 112 Gbps PAM4 per lane. According to Spectra7, since the GC1122 is analog and highly linear, dynamics such as line rate adjustment, multi-level signaling, intermittent line silence, transmit pre-emphasis or amplitude adjustment and receiver adaptivity are fully preserved. The GC1122 is packaged in an ultra-small 2.7 mm x 4.2 mm chip-scale package, making it easily embeddable in even the smallest of connectors.

"GaugeChanger is an innovative and disruptive technology that allows copper to extend much longer lengths without the cost and power penalty of optics," adds Spectra7's Halim. "It works equally well at 25 Gbps NRZ, 50 Gbps PAM-4 and 100 Gbps PAM4, enabling new connector standards of 100, 200, 400 and 800 Gbps."

“Customers continue to demand copper as they are quickly moving to next-generation 25.6 Tbps and 800G switching solutions,” concludes Alan Weckel, founder and technology analyst with 650 Group. “We see the 800 Gbps and above Ethernet switch market growing over the next 5 years to over $12 billion driven by AI, Machine Learning and increased use of cloud applications. Active copper cables like those enabled by Spectra7 will play a critical role at 800 Gbps as traditional passive cables will not be able to achieve the lengths needed. We anticipate at 800 Gbps, up to half of all network interconnects to be active copper as the architecture in the networks continues to evolve at higher speeds.”

The GC1122 is expected to be available for broad sampling in the fourth quarter of 2020. For more information, visit www.spectra7.com.

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