Molex co-packaged optics powers blind-mating hybrid optical-electrical connector

Sept. 8, 2022
The new External Laser Source Interconnect System (ELSIS) is a complete platform of cage, optical and electrical connectors with a pluggable module that uses proven co-packaged optics (CPO) technology to speed hyperscale data center deployments.

Molex has now announced what the company bills as its "first-to-market" pluggable module platform for co-packaged optics (CPO). The company says its External Laser Source Interconnect System (ELSIS) comprises a complete platform of cage, optical and electrical connectors with a pluggable module that uses the company's proven optical technology to speed the development of hyperscale data centers.

As explained by the company's product announcement:

"CPO is a next-generation technology that moves optical connections from the front panel to within the host system—right next to high-speed ICs...

Traditional pluggable modules have their optical connections at the user side of the module, creating concerns about eye safety when used with high-power laser sources, such as those planned for CPO. As a blind-mating solution, ELSIS eliminates user access to optical fiber ports and cables, providing a complete external laser source system for safe, easy implementation and maintenance.

The use of external laser sources also means a major heat source is moved away from the optoelectronics and IC package. Plus, the design eliminates high-speed electrical I/O drivers on the IC and in pluggable modules, further reducing thermal loads and power consumption within the equipment."

"From high-speed networking chips to graphics processing units (GPUs) and AI engines, the demand for I/O bandwidth continues to escalate," points out Tom Marrapode, director of advanced technology development, Molex Optical Solutions. "By placing the optics closer to these ASICs, CPO will address the growing complexities associated with high-speed electrical traces, including signal integrity, density and power consumption."

A proven optical-electrical design

Molex said it used its existing optical and electrical I/O products—which the company noted "have proven field reliability with millions of ports shipped over 20 years"—as building blocks for the ELSIS platform.

The company maintains that this repurposing of technology ensures known field performance and reduces the need for considerable engineering and testing.

In contrast, the company contends that many competing proposed CPO platforms will rely on "all-new designs requiring extensive validation that puts time-to-market at risk."

The ELSIS platform also "offers exceptional advantages as a comprehensive, all-in-one solution," adds Molex.

As further explained by the company:

"External laser source systems comprise a complex mix of optical and electrical connectors, pluggable modules, internal host system fiber optic cabling and cages. By designing all these elements in-house, Molex has created a complete, fully engineered system that obviates the lengthy design cycles needed to integrate these components. The result is a highly interoperable, high-performance system that gives designers and end-users a plug-and-play experience."

The total platform is grounded in Molex's comprehensive technology portfolio, which includes optical and electrical connectors, on-card optical cabling, optoelectrical modules and cage design. "As the only company to bring these capabilities together in-house, Molex is leading the industry in the transition to CPO," contends the company's statement.

Attendees of this year's European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC 2022) from September 19-21 in Basel, Switzerland can visit Molex in its booth #127  to learn more about the new blind-mating, hybrid optical electrical connector.

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