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Anaheim Convention Center (CA) was the center of a spectacle of technology that continues to impact our daily lives, culminating decades of innovation in communications computer imaging. There were 580 exhibiting companies, accompanied by more than 1,160 peer-reviewed papers and more than 13,000 attendees. This years’ edition of Optical Fiber Conference (OFC), the largest optical communications and networking conference, featured a wide range of important topics and intriguing solutions. With fiber optic communications technology turning 50 and this year’s OFC drawing the most innovative names in telecom, optical communications, and datacom, the state of the industry can be described as very bright indeed. The guest of honor should have been Sir Charles Kao, 2009 Physics Nobel Prize winner. It was Kao who 50 years ago discovered that a laser beam traveling down a single strand of low-loss glass optical fiber has the ability to transfer the entire contents of a 1TB hard drive in about 31 miliseconds.
Evolution of datacenters, silicon photonics, software-defined networking (SDN), network speed and efficiency were the primary topics of this edition of the event. As Kathleen Tse, General Co-Chair of AT&T, put it: “OFC is the networking event of the year. It’s where the global community involved in optical and data networking comes together to take the pulse of the industry. This year was no exception. The event’s premier conference program reflects the hard work and dedication of many, including the technical program chairs, subcommittee chairs and committee members. OFC 2016 was packed with very interesting presentations. But first – Cadence, Lumerical and PhoeniX Software had announced a Virtuoso platform-based design flow for electronic/photonic ICs that improves productivity by enhancing the Virtuoso environment with photonic integrated circuit layout and simulation capabilities. Judging from the attention we managed to draw, the announcement made quite an impact.
And Cadence was demonstrating its latest high-speed SerDes, specifically for PCIe 4.0 and today’s changing datacenter device architecture. There’s much more East-West traffic and the high-speed interconnect is key to moving data and supporting large dataset analytics.
Figure 1 –Old versus new generation datacenter architecture
And it doesn’t matter that 50 years ago we couldn’t conceive of a $100 1TB storage drive. We had the initiative and determination as an industry to make the impossible an everyday occurrence. It speaks loudly on behalf of OFC and for the industry at large, for turning dreams into today’s reality.
Event speakers and topics of interest
Dr Sean Long, director and PLM for Transmission Network at Huawei, presented the latest cloud edge solutions. The primary goal for Huawei seems to be efficient support for new services, and the presentation clearly mirrored that.
Dr Frank J. Effenberger, Vice President of Access R&D at Futurwei Technologies spoke about new Giga access platform MA5800 and 10G PON ONT terminal. Looks like the perfect solution for 4KTV and HDTV ultra-broadband services.
Larry Tarof, Chief Photonics Scientist at Jabil Enterprise & Infrastructure, gave a presentation regarding bandwidth. With the constant demand for lower cost and greater density, today’s solutions and trends will be quickly obsolete.
Faisal Dada, Wired Solutions Architect at Xilinx, made a presentation about exploring FlexE enabled applications with the help of next-generation dynamic transport systems.
David Yeh, Sr. OTN Product Marketing Manager at Xilinx, shared his view on Xilinx’s 400G OTUCn Muxponder Subsystem. Product enables fast deployment of one 400G, two 200G or four 100G and supports flexible OTN Ethernet.
Yigal Ezra, CEO of ColorChip, presented the company’s approach to addressing datacenter requirement for cost-effective $/Gbps. Ezra presented a modulator incorporated with ColorChip SystemOnGlass – a hybrid, multilane photonic IC.
Dr. Jay Perrett, Chief Technology Officer at Aria Networks, talked about the industry’s take on optimization. We tend to think that machine learning and AI are the key enablers, and optical layers with full multilayer domain helps. Perrett agrees and his presentation showed how all those factors fit together.
Mike Stover, Vice President of Marketing and Engineering at Jasper Display, talked about digital LCoS and its precise control of multi-level phase modulation in order to help increase optical efficiency.
Brian Robertson, Lead Technologist at ROADmap, presented a module that allows up to 40 independent 1×12 Wavelength Selective Switches (WSSs) to operate with a single 4K digital LCoS device. All for crosstalk suppression.
Dr. Young Lee, Technical Director at Huawei, presented challenges of transport networks, originated from the evolution of DCI, 5G transport, and 4K/8K video technologies in the ICT era.