100G Optical Transceivers Are So Popular in 5G Fronthaul

Today we are going to talk about a segmentation closely related to the 5G theme – 100G optical transceivers. Recently, there has been a new landmark theme, which is „100G optical transceiver“, what are the reasons?

What Are 100G Optical Transceivers?

1. The first explain is that the 100G „G“ refers to the optical signal transmission rate of units, rather than the 5G „G“ (Generation, 5th generation mobile communications).

2. Optical transceiver is one of optical devices to achieve high-speed conversion between optical signals. It includes the optical receiver, optical transmitter, laser, detector and other functional modules.

3. According to the packaging types (CFP / XFP / SFP / QSFP, etc.), the transmission rate (155Mbps ~ 200Gbps), optical link (CWDM / DWDM / PSM), mode (Single-mode / Multi-mode), Plug-in/out mode (Fixed / Hot-pluggable) and other categories, optical transceivers have various kinds of categories. If considering the operating temperature range, whether the number of self-diagnostic functions and performance classification elements, optical transceiver categories are more.

4. The basic structure of an optical transceiver includes a laser (TOSA) + driving circuit, a detector (ROSA) + receiving circuit, a multiplexer (MUX), a demultiplexer (DEMUX), an interface, an auxiliary circuit and a housing.

5. Driven by technological upgrading and cost reduction, the optical transceiver continues to be „high speed, miniaturization and integration.“ 100G optical transceivers use 25G laser chip technology. According to the different packaging methods, 100G optical transceivers are CFP / CFP2 / CFP4, CXP and QSFP28. QSFP28 is a new generation of 100G optical transceiver packaging, and has now become the mainstream packaging of optical transceivers.

6. 100G optical transceivers have different models and standards. Generally speaking, the transmission rate of optical signals is much higher than that of low-rate 10G and 25G products. Now they have become the star products in large-scale data centers and telecom markets.

Why Are 100G Optical Transceivers So Popular?

1. From the Market Segmentation Point of View

 The optical transceiver market can be subdivided into Telecom, Datacom and Access markets. Access market generally use 10G and below the low-speed optical transceiver. North American data center market is undergoing 40G to 100G upgrading, the current high-speed optical transceiver is the main growth point. After 5G construction started, the telecommunications market for high-speed optical transceiver demand will be larger than the data center market.

2. The Relationship between Optical Transceivers and 5G

With the evolution of 5G technology, based on the requirement of higher base station density, there will be greater new demand and market space for high-rate optical transceivers. At present, LTE base stations of 4G mainly use 10G optical transceivers, and 25G / 100G optical transceivers are the preferred solutions of the front 5G optical transmission modules in the future.

(1) At present, the market demand for digital communications is growing rapidly: the demand for high-end optical transceivers in Internet data centers is accelerating, especially in overseas digital communications markets. In the data center server and switch, a large number of connections are using optical communication technology; data center network has become the driving force for the growth of optical transceivers. With the construction of large-scale data centers and the outbreak of traffic, the demand for optical transceivers in the data center has been shifted from 10G / 25G to 40G / 100G and 100G has become the mainstream since 2017. 

(2) The rapid increase of optical transceiver industry profit in 2016 was mainly due to the sharp increase in the demand for 100G optical transceiver in North American cloud computing center. The demand for optical transceiver increased sharply, and 100G optical transceiver in the market was in short supply. It is estimated that the global 100G optical transceiver shipments in 2017 will reach 200-300 million.

(3) Telecommunication Network Market (Three Major Carrier Capital Expenditure Items): Optical communication is the cornerstone of 5G and the demand of 5G for high-rate optical transceivers increases. At present, LTE base stations of 4G mainly use 10G optical transceivers, and 25G / 100G optical transceivers are the preferred solutions of the 5G fronthaul optical transceivers in the future.

Each base station needs 12 25G / 100G optical transceivers: one base station has one BBU and connects to three RRUs, and each BBU uses three pairs of six optical transceivers, each pair uses two pairs of RRUs, for a total of 12 optical transceivers. Theoretically, due to the characteristics such as high frequency, high density and high connection of 5G, the domestic future needs to build nearly 10 million base stations, that is, the demand of hundreds of millions of optical transceivers, and the number of base stations in North America is 10 million, The demand for high-speed optical transceivers brought by 5G construction will be even greater. At present, there are many kinds of mature 100G optical transceivers in the market, like 100G QSFP28 CWDM4, 100G QSFP28 PSM4 and 100G CFP / CFP2 / CFP4 optical modules provided by Gigalight. They cover the mainstream form factors: CFP / CFP2 / CFP4 / QSFP28 and can be used for a variety of optical network bearer demand.

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100G QSFP28 Optical Transceivers Introduction

The continuous and rapid development of the Internet as well as the desire of people for higher speed optical networks facilitated the vigorous development of the entire optical communications industry and strongly promoted the independent R & D and innovation in many core technologies including optoelectronic devices technologies. 100g optical transceiver is regarded as the product of this big data era.

The first generation of 100G optical modules is CFP optical module with very large volume, then CFP2 and CFP4 optical modules appears. CFP4 optical module is the latest generation of 100G optical module, the width is only 1/4 of CFP optical module. Its package size is not same as the QSFP + optical module. The QSFP28 optical module has a smaller package size than the CFP4 optical module, which means the QSFP28 optical module has a higher port density on the switch. The following are several 100G QSFP28 series optical modules:

Main Types of QSFP28 Optical Transceivers

100G QSFP28 LR4 is a 100Gb/s transceiver module designed for optical communication applications compliant to 100GBASE-LR4 of the IEEE P802.3ba standard. 

100G QSFP28 SR4 is a four-channel, pluggable, parallel, fiber-optic QSFP+ SR4 optical transceiver module for 100/40 Gigabit Ethernet, Infiniband DDR/EDR and 32GFC applications.

100G QSFP28 PSM4 is a four-channel, pluggable, parallel, fiber-optic QSFP28 PSM4 optical transceiver module for 100/40 Gigabit Ethernet and Infiniband DDR/EDR Applications.

100G QSFP28 CWDM4 is a 100Gb/s transceiver module which is designed for optical communication applications compliant with the QSFP MSA, CWDM4 MSA and portions of IEEE P802.3bm standard.

Of course, QSFP28 series also includes 100G QSFP28 active optical cables; these products have played an important role in the development of 100G.

Advantages of 100G QSFP28 Optical Transceivers

1. Power Consumption

The power consumption of QSFP28 typically is no more than 3.5W, while the power consumption of other 100G optical modules typically is between 6W and 24W. From this, the power consumption of QSFP28 optical modules is much lower power than other 100G optical modules.

2. Cost

Now the data center is mainly 10G network architecture, in which the interconnection solutions are mainly 10GBASE-SR optical module and duplex LC multimode fiber jumper. If the existing 10G network architecture based on the direct is upgraded to 40 / 100G network, it will save a lot of time and cost. Therefore, one of the major interconnection trends in data centers is to upgrade from 10G networks to 40 / 100G networks without changing existing duplex multimode infrastructure. In this case, the MPO / MTP branchable cable is undoubtedly the ideal solution for a 10G upgrade to 40 / 100G.

3. Bandwidth

The QSFP28 uses the advanced 100G transport technology to provide the data center with a connection between the chassis switch and the core network, providing up to 150% greater panel bandwidth density than the 40G QSFP solution

Optical Module Test

When using optical modules, test performance is an essential step. Optical module is composed of transmitter and receiver, so when we test, it is generally divided into four steps, which mainly includes the transmitter and receiver test.

First, the transmitter part:

When testing, pay attention to the wavelength and shape of the transmitter output waveform, as well as the receiver’s jitter tolerance and bandwidth. When testing the transmitter, note the following:

1. The quality of the input signal used to test the transmitter must be good enough. In addition, the quality of the electrical measurements must also be confirmed by jitter and eye measurements. Eye diagram measurements are a common way to check the transmitter’s output waveform because the eye diagram contains a wealth of information that reflects the overall performance of the transmitter.

2.The output optical signal of the transmitter must be measured by the optical quality index such as eye pattern test, optical modulation amplitude and extinction ratio.

Second, the receiver part:

Unlike test transmitters, the quality of the optical signal must be sufficiently poor when testing the receiver that a light pressure eye pattern representing the worst signal must be created. This worst case optical signal must pass through jitter measurements and light Power test to calibrate.

1. Eye pattern test, this will ensure that the eye „eye“ is open. Eye diagram testing is usually done at the depth of the bit error rate;

2. Jitter test to test different types of jitter;

3. Jitter Tracking and Tolerance, testing the internal clock recovery circuit to track the jitter.

All in all, testing light modules is a complex undertaking, but it is also an indispensable step in ensuring good performance. Eye diagram measurement is a widely used measurement method that can effectively test the transmitter of an optical module. The optical module receiver test is more complex, but also requires more testing methods. 

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