PAM4/NRZ SoC module propels 40 km fiber reach for 5G, edge, cloud networks

Sept. 19, 2022
Based on a PAM4/NRZ system on chip, Point2's RangeXtender2 module reference design expands 5G ecosystem options for module and network equipment manufacturers.

At ECOC 2022 (Sept. 18-22) in Switzerland, Point2 Technology, a provider of high-performance, low-power connectivity system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for cloud and 5G infrastructure, has introduced its 5G RangeXtender2 reference design, featuring the company’s new SoC with proprietary electronic dispersion compensation (EDC) technology.

According to Point2, PAM4/NRZ module products based on the RangeXtender2 reference design and SoC can extend the reach of 5G, edge and cloud fronthaul and backhaul networks to 40 km. By significantly increasing the range of existing fiber transmission paths, RangeXtender2 enables a reduction of up to 25 percent in total cost of ownership for 5G network connectivity deployments.

Per the manufacturer, the RangeXtender2 provides dual-signal PAM4 and NRZ modulation to extend optical network distances while ensuring full data integrity. Capable of speed-switching between PAM4 and NRZ modes, a single SoC can support multiple lines of module products (including PAM4, NRZ and DWDM) and is tunable to address a variety of network requirements globally.

Point2 maintains this "flexible ecosystem approach" will help expand access use cases such as 5G fronthaul/backhaul networks and cable operator networks, enabling multiple system operators (MSOs) to scale their existing networks from 10G to 25G DWDM and deliver more digital services to consumers.

At the heart of the RangeXtender2 module is a new, purpose-built SoC featuring a proprietary PAM4 modulation engine. According to Point2, the SoC extends the reach of 5G fronthaul/backhaul and MSO networks by cutting data frequency in half while maintaining full signal quality and maintaining legacy compatibility through NRZ mode for the host-side interface. The SoC also integrates Point2’s proprietary EDC engine, which combines two lanes of bidirectional clock-and-data recovery (CDR) and EDC with a CDR/retimer. The company says this approach minimizes distortion caused by dispersion, reduces bit-error rates and simplifies integration into today’s SFP28 module products.

As further explained by Point2:

"The RangeXtender2 module converts electrical NRZ modulation to optical PAM-4 modulation, which has half the data frequency (12.5 Gbaud) compared to NRZ (25 Gbaud). This half-rate optical PAM4 mode is more immune to optical dispersion and can reduce module cost by enabling developers to use existing 10G components. The analog EDC filter flawlessly compensates for directly modulated laser (DML) chirp dispersion, reducing transmitter optical subassembly (TOSA) cost. RangeXtender2 also features a linear receiver optical subassembly (ROSA) that enables multiple module suppliers to deliver a range of PAM4 and NRZ solutions."

The new SoC offers two different modes of operation: 25 Gbps NRZ-EDC mode and 25 Gbps NRZ (25 Gbaud)-to-PAM4 (12.5 Gbaud) mode. While the NRZ-to-PAM4 mode offers the benefit of using 10 Gbps TOSA/ROSA for 25 Gbps transmission and longer reach (up to 40 km), the NRZ-EDC mode provides more link budget margins (10 dB) than the NRZ-to-PAM4 mode. Module manufacturers can decide which mode they will use, depending on the distance and link budget requirements of their interconnect solutions.

Point2 reports it has engaged in partnership discussions with Tier 1 module companies that supply the 5G ecosystem to accelerate ramp-up and provide diversity through multi-sourcing by delivering comprehensive hardware and software reference to accelerate time to market and reduce development cost. The RangeXtender2 module reference design currently supports 25 Gbps solutions with a roadmap to deliver up to 100 Gbps for future access networks.

Point2’s new PAM4/NRZ SoC is sampling now with the RangeXtender2 reference design, and production is expected in Q2 2023. Key hardware details are as follows:

Power consumption: ~640 mW/bi-directional lanes fits SFP28 power envelope
Size: 3.8 mm x 3.8 mm (1.0 mm max. height) form factor fits well in SFP28 PCB designs


“Our new RangeXtender2 module reference design based on our new SoC extends the reach of existing fiber infrastructure to 40 km. The RangeXtender2 module enables lower cost of ownership while enhancing link performance on aging fiber infrastructure by reducing the need for costly fiber extension, dispersion compensation filters and amplification. With the launch of our RangeXtender2 reference design and SoC, we’ve become a leading mixed-signal SoC supplier for interconnect solutions powering the next generation of data center and 5G networks for cable operators and MSOs.”

-- Sean Park, CEO, Point2 Technology

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