Luxtera unveils 40G optical active cable, targets Infiniband

Aug. 15, 2007
August 15, 2007 -- The company says its Blazar 40 Gigabit optical active cable (OAC), which employs CMOS photonics technology, will enable InfiniBand backbones to become ubiquitous for high capacity applications.

August 15, 2007 -- Luxtera Inc. has introduced the first 40-gigabit optical active cable (OAC), dubbed Blazar, which the company also touts as the world's first CMOS photonics product. The Blazar cable is designed to combine the benefits of optical modules and copper cables to cost-effectively deliver high-bandwidth interconnect. By using its CMOS photonics technology in its first commercial product, Luxtera says it can provide a 40-gigabit optical interconnect product at 20-gigabit pricing.

The target markets for Blazar are high-performance computing InfiniBand and 40G proprietary rack-to-rack interconnect applications. With support for quad data rate (QDR), Blazar's 40G bandwidth and extended reach of up to 300 m overcomes the speed and range barriers that have limited InfiniBand applications to small computer clusters, the company asserts. This opens the use of InfiniBand for a wide range of applications that demand higher capacity and performance.

InfiniBand is rapidly being adopted in data centers, fueled by its current transition from 10G Single Data Rate (SDR) to 20G Double Data Rate (DDR). This adoption rate may further accelerate given the upcoming transition to 40G QDR, Luxtera believes. To enable transition to QDR, an interconnect technology at price points comparable to currently shipping DDR rates is needed. An interconnect technology such as Blazar can enable this transition and potentially allow InfiniBand to increase its market share over competing technologies, the company asserts.

"This is groundbreaking technology, offering 40G OACs using the innovative CMOS Photonics technology," said Jag Bolaria, senior analyst at The Linley Group. "Migration to 40G connectivity allows for denser clusters, and the 300-m range extends the reach of these clusters. This should have a positive impact for high-performance computing and data centers."

Luxtera says Blazar eases constraints on computer cluster design and location, as its high density and reach enable data-center customers to fully populate racks with servers and switches. This can eliminate the need to expand physical facilities to increase computing capacity. Blazar also is designed to provide significant improvements in power consumption, footprint density, and reliability by combining singlemode fiber with Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable (QSFP) MSA connectors. Blazar's power consumption is 2.2 W per cable-end, resulting in 0.05 W per gigabit of data. Besides the power savings, the reduction in overall power consumption can significantly reduce cooling costs.

"Optical active cables are the new trend in optical interconnects, combining the benefits of optical modules and copper cables to deliver a high-performance, low-cost connectivity option," said Marek Tlalka, Luxtera's vice president of marketing. "Data centers are in need of cost-effective, high-performance connectivity solutions and Blazar is filling that need with 40G fiber performance at price points comparable to existing 20G interconnect."

By permanently attaching fiber cable to optical transceivers, and powering four transmitters with a single hermetically sealed laser, Blazar delivers a number of benefits to users, Luxtera says. This includes a preassembled plug-and-play approach that significantly reduces installation and maintenance costs while providing superior reliability as compared with traditional VCSEL-based options.

Blazar connects to a system via a QSFP MSA-compliant connector cage. The electrical interface is SFP+ compliant, which enables it to support data rates of 1 to 10.5 gigabits per transport lane for a total throughput of up to 42 Gbits/sec. Blazar utilizes singlemode fiber, which is lower cost and higher performance than multimode fiber, further reducing interconnect costs while extending reach to 300 m without the need for additional electronic dispersion compensation (EDC).

Blazar OAC is available in multiple cable lengths from 1 to 300 m. Luxtera will begin sampling Blazar in Q4 2007, with production quantities available in 2008.

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