Zarlink expands ZLynx active optical cable line for data center interconnect

Nov. 18, 2008
November 18, 2008 -- The company's new 20 Gb/s ZLynx active optical cables with QSFP-to-QSFP and QSFP-to-CX4 terminations are showcased at this week's SC08 show in Austin, TX.

November 18, 2008 -- At SC08, Zarlink Semiconductor Inc. announced commercial availability of its expanded ZLynx dual data rate (DDR) active optical cables with integrated quad small form-factor (QSFP) and hybrid QSFP-to-CX4 terminations.

Zarlink cites itself as among the first vendors to volume-produce active optical cables, with the ZLynx ZL 60615 cables deployed in a range of data centers and computer clusters. The company reports that its new ZLynx-Q and ZLynx hybrid cables are currently at select lead customers; the cables support up to 100-meter reach to enable larger and scalable data centers, while their compact size further simplifies installation and maintenance.

"Zarlink extended the ZLynx product line in response to data center, server and switch demand for an easy-to-use, lighter optical cable solution with enhanced signal-integrity performance," says Ram Rao, product line manager for Zarlink Semiconductor's parallel interconnect products. "ZLynx CX4 cables offered superior cable management with lower bit error rate than traditional copper cables. New ZLynx-Q and ZLynx hybrid cables offer the popular QSFP termination at 4x5 Gb/s and they will extend to 4x10 Gb/s for InfiniBand QDR."

Zarlink's hybrid CX4-to-QSFP cables are used to bridge CX4-based host channel adaptor (HCA) cards and new InfiniBand switches employing QSFP terminations. The QSFP interface is being rapidly adopted for high-performance computing and InfiniBand because of the QSFP's faceplate density, its recessed housing eases cable management, and enhanced signal integrity and electromagnetic interference shielding. All of these are critical as speeds migrate to 10 Gb/s.

At SC'08, Zarlink is demonstrating the interoperability of the ZLynx-Q and ZLynx hybrid cables between servers and InfiniBand and Ethernet switches from several vendors, including QLogic and Mellanox. ZLynx cables will also provide infrastructure links on the exhibition floor as part of the tradeshow's SCinet network.

Zarlink's ZL60620 ZLynx-Q and ZL60625 ZLynx hybrid active optical cables are now sampling 30 meter lengths. Volume production in all cable lengths is set for early 2009. The ZLynx ZL60615 cables with CX4 connectors are in full production and available in three meter to 100 meter lengths.

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