Intel pushes photonic tech for the data center

Intel datacentre alliance
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Chipmaker Intel is rallying some key industry names behind its 100G CLR4 photonic communication technology which it claims will revolutionize the data center.

The technology aims to cure a problem that large data centers have moving high bandwidth across longer lengths of fibre cable.

Intel has formed a 100G CLR4 Alliance with members including Arista, Brocade, Dell, Ebay, HP, and Oclaro. The idea is that the Alliance will create an open specification for a cost-effective, low-power 100G CWDM optical link with a reach of up to 2km.

Photonic Communication

Mario Paniccia, Intel fellow and general manager of the Silicon Photonics Solutions Group, said that there needs to be industry-wide specifications or standards that ultimately make things work better together and more importantly, drive down costs. He said that this would help growth of the data center industry.

Paniccia said that photonic communication was a great way to move data in a data center as they become massive and need longer reaches for connectivity.

"Optical has the known benefits of moving data further than electrical links, transmitting data faster and not being affected by electro-magnetic interference. As we move from 10Gbps to 25Gbps signaling, optical communication becomes even more important," Paniccia said.

There are telecom centric optical transceivers operating at 100Gbps, but their power, size and costs are non-starters for the new data center.

"There is a huge gap that needs to be filled for reaches that span from say 100m to 2km. And that's the problem we are trying to address here," Paniccia said.

Andy Bechtolsheim, founder, chairman, and chief development officer of Arista Networks said that the alliance will speed up the industry's ability to make cost effective low-power, 100G CRL4 QSFP form factor optics that address the 2km reach requirements of large data center customers.