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Analysis on Optical Transceivers in Data Centers
Date:2018-03-08 17:17:47 | Visits:

Optical transceivers are everywhere in data centers, but there are few people mentioning them. Actually optical transceivers are most widely used products in data centers. Current data centers are mainly based on optical interconnection, and cable interconnection is less and less. Therefore, data centers aren't able to operate normally without the help of optical transceivers. By means of photovoltaic conversion, optical transceivers convert electrical signal intro optical signal at the transmitting end, then convert optical signals into electrical signals at the receiving end after optical fiber transmission. That is to say, any optical transceiver has two functions: receiving and transmitting for photoelectric conversion and electro-optical conversion. There are tens of thousands of devices in a medium data center. If we want to accomplish the full interconnection of devices, we at least need thousands of optical transceivers. Even though the price of an optical transceiver isn't high, the quantity is huge. The total price of optical transceivers for data centers isn't low and sometimes is even more than the purchase cost of other general network devices. Optical transceivers have become a market segment in data centers.

Optical transceivers have small sizes, but great effect. Data centers can't do anything without them. The continuously expansion of data center market directly facilitate the development of optical transceiver market. Global optical transceiver market has been developing rapidly in recent 5 years. In 2010, global optical transceiver sales revenue was only $2.8 billion. But in 2014, the sales revenue was over $4.1 billion. By 2019, the optical transceiver sales revenue is expected to increase to $6.6 billion. Optical transceivers are developing into ultra-high frequency, ultra-high speed and ultra-large capacity. The huge profits of optical transceivers make so many people do counterfeit optical transceiver business. For example, they purchase a large number of optical transceivers from manufacturers directly, and then wholesale to other vendors or data center customers. There are some also shoddy optical transceivers with low prices in exchange for high profits. Once you have used such a poor optical transceiver, the risk may come anytime. Some low-quality optical transceivers generate large amounts of heat, some are wrongly packaged, and some optical transceivers are unstable, some internal optical transceivers record information errors, and so on. There are already a large number of poor optical transceivers on the market that disrupt this market. However, this also reflects the fact that the optical transceiver market is relatively hot from the side.

Actually the structure of optical transceivers is quite simple, not related to some complex electric circuits. The only point is that the requirement of manufacturing technique is relatively high. The poor manufacturing technique will greatly affect the light path quality, which may be unable to connect with the optical transceiver from other side or may have link error packets that affect the data forwarding. Especially for the high-speed optical transceivers like 40G/100G/200G, they often have higher requirements for manufacturing technique. Not all optical transceiver manufactures/vendors are able to produce these standard-compliant optical transceiver modules, this also keeps the price of 100G optical transceivers high. Optical transceiver is actually a high technical requirement of the product with high technology. The cost of the material is not high, but the additional technology value is high. Because of developing an optical transceiver, it often requires many researchers of optics, circuit technology, network, etc. To invest a lot of scientific research, human input in this area is huge. All of them are counted into the cost of making optical transceivers, thus making the price of optical transceivers remain high. Compared with servers and network devices, the profits of optical transceivers are higher. Unlike servers, networks, storage and other market segment competitions have been sufficient, the market competition of optical transceivers still has space to develop. With the continuously increasing demand for 400G/100G optical transceivers in data centers, the market brings many chances to optical transceiver vendors with relatively high profits.

It's not easy to provide optical transceivers with reliable quality that meet the using requirements in data centers. In recent years, other technologies of the data centers are also raising, the optical transceiver requirements are getting higher and higher. The first is the high speed, the current server interface is from 1G to 10G, and aggregation switches from 10G to 40G / 100G, 25G and 400G standards are also being developed. Once they have been formed as a standard, specific optical transceiver design and development will also be launched. It will further enhance the data center's network bandwidth capabilities. The second is the environmental protection and low power consumption. Data center power consumption is very large, the calculation of heating power consumption is a great waste of power if a 10G optical transceiver's work power consumption is 3W, then for a 4800000000 trillion switching card optical transceiver, only the power consumption is reached 144W, if a network of 16 card equipment, it would have 2300W, which is equivalent to point 23 100W lamps at the same time.

The third is the high-density to save space. Although the optical transceivers are getting higher and higher speed, but they can be designed to be smaller and smaller. The previous GBIC optical transceivers only have Gigabit speed, but the size is larger than 10G. The previous 100G optical transceivers' width is nearly 10CM long, but now 100G optical transceiver and 10G size have no difference. On a board card, it can do 48 100G port density. The fourth is the low-cost, the too high prices of 100G optical transceivers some extent inhibit the market demand, many data centers can't accept the high prices of 100G optical transceivers. Not only to consider the optical module, but also the accompanying equipment, have all of them needed to re-invest with high expenses. If 100G optical module can have a substantial reduction in cost, it will soon popularize in the data center. At present, the data center capable of deploying 100G interconnects is rare. Therefore, it is not an easy task to provide high-quality optical transceivers. Therefore, it is necessary to continuously research and improve the production level of optical transceivers.

Even with small size, optical transceivers can have a great effect in data centers. Especially in today's increasingly demanding for data center bandwidth, optical transceivers even have restricted the development of data centers to some extent, it is hoped that more and more enterprises to join the optical transceiver market, which promote the optical transceiver market faster development. Small size but big effect, optical transceivers are playing more and more important role in data centers.

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