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The Competition Surrounding 800 Gigabit Ethernet

A thrilling competition. The connector technology for 800 Gigabit Ethernet is challenging the entire industry. Several consortia are developing new generations and formats. The cloud industry is waiting for faster connectivity.


Hyperscale data centers will soon be needing 800G

The high demand for technologies for faster FO data transmission in hyperscale data centers has triggered a whole range of developments. The manufacturer consortia – called MSAs (Multi-Source Agreements) – are working at high pressure on new specifications, which focus on the roadmap from 400 to 800 Gigabit Ethernet (800G).

The cloud industry is waiting for new, faster optical connectivity. It is expected that cloud companies will need usable 800G modules by 2023-2024 to be able to increase the transmission performance in their data centers.

The natural step in growth

A US-dominated group is developing the specifications for the QSFP-DD800 connection. This is the natural step from the original 400G specification.

The format of the optical connectors remains the same. The transmission speed in the individual lines is increasing to 112 GBit/s. The consortium wants to guarantee that the 800G connection remains backward compatible.


The other concept: multiplexing

A competing, Chinese-dominated MSA group was set up at the end of 2019. It is aiming to develop 800G pluggables. The focus here is mainly on the connectivity between several data centers.

Their approach to accelerating data transmission is based on the multiplexing method and the parallel operation of eight or four lines (8 x 100G or 4 x 200G). This consortium wants to adopt the format of the QSFP-DD or OSFP connectors.

Third in the bunch: On-Board Optics

The Consortium for On-Board Optics (COBO) has already specified an 800G solution. It is based on a 16-channel configuration. This concept allows the transmission rate to be doubled to 1.6 TB in the future.

On-Board Optics (OBO) convert the signals on the circuit board in the housing instead of in the connector. The light is fed directly into fibers and led to passive connectors in the front panel. This type of connectivity requires less space than active pluggables.

Planning a migration-capable network

What is key today is to plan and install migration-capable networks. Data centers already wanting to make provisions for the generation change to 800G choose adaptable distribution platforms. In terms of evaluation and planning, R&M provides expertise and a comprehensive data center program.

400 Gigabits800 GigabitsCOBOEthernet

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