Home Industry Consortium To Bring Interoperable On-Board Optics

Consortium To Bring Interoperable On-Board Optics


A new consortium created to solve switch faceplate bandwidth density and airflow constraints caused by the ever-increasing speeds of networking technologies like 400 Gigabit Ethernet today opened its doors. Through the Consortium for On-Board Optics (COBO), technology leaders will promote collaboration in defining industry standards that permit relocating the optical module from the faceplate to inside the networking equipment.

Founding members include Arista Networks, Broadcom Corp., Cisco, Coriant, Dell, Finisar Corp., Inphi Corp., Intel Corp., JDSU, Juniper Networks, Luxtera Inc., Mellanox Technologies, Microsoft Corp., Oclaro, RANOVUS, Source Photonics and TE Connectivity, which will work together to develop specifications and technology roadmaps for on-board optical modules.

The consortium will immediately begin collaborating on a set of industry standards that define electrical interfaces, management interfaces, thermal requirements and pinouts to permit the development of interchangeable and interoperable optical modules that can be mounted or socketed on a network switch or adapter motherboard. COBO will enable the development of optical modules that can be placed closer to the network integrated circuits to decrease the power required to interface to the modules while also increasing faceplate bandwidth density and airflow.

“The founding companies of the Consortium for On-Board Optics are taking a major step forward in improving the efficiency of optical interconnects in datacenter networks,” said Brad Booth, COBO Chair and Principal Architect, Microsoft Azure Global Networking Services. “With ever-increasing data rates, the ability to move the optical modules closer to the network silicon provides a real economic and environmental benefit.”

“LightCounting has tracked the decade-long use of proprietary on-board/embedded optical modules inside high-performance systems,” said Dale Murray, Principal Analyst for LightCounting Market Research. “Standardizing these on-board modules via an industry consortium helps accelerate their use in the much larger datacenter market.”

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