There are few better places to be in March than San Diego. SoCal sunshine always beats wintry weather. Thankfully, OFC 2018 was located at the San Diego Convention Center instead of the snowy US East Coast.
The sunny weather outside acted as a harbinger of the positive energy inside the convention center at OFC 2018. The technical sessions were filled with roadmaps from components and solutions providers. Attendees were eager with anticipation to see what the show would bring.
Strong Market for Optical Networking
Overwhelming positive outlooks on the OFC 2018 exhibitor floor were unexpected. The strong global economy and growing secular trends (5G, big data, cloud connectivity, etc.) no doubt are contributors here. The optical networking industry seems poised for faster growth throughout 2018.
OFC 2018 itself was busier than past years. More than 15,500 attendees from 65 countries and more than 700 exhibitors are fertile ground for deal making. Business analysts and venture capitalists were on the search for market changing technologies. Rumors of new start-ups swirled on the floor.
Strong economic activity leads to a tight labor market. OFC 2018 featured an exhibitor floor section just for recruiting. Companies large and small openly advertised open positions across engineering and business disciplines. Samtec has several technical openings as well.
Most impressive was the diversity of next-gen technology on display. Optical and copper networking solutions were pervasive. Pluggable solutions like OSFP, QSFP, QSFP-DD are available for numerous applications. Samtec’s Flyover™ technology offers differentiated benefits and system architectures.
Industry-standard On-Board Optical Engines – When?
Front panel-pluggable MSA form factors are the de facto standard for EO conversions in most systems. They provide many advantages including:
- Increasing performance (more channels, faster speeds, lower power, etc.)
- Support from industry standards bodies
- Support from interconnect, cables, transceiver and OEM vendors
- Economies of scale
The optical networking industry has been asking for industry-standard, mid-board optics for some time to leverage the benefits of pluggable MSA solutions. The Consortium for On-Board Optics (COBO) was formed for just that purpose.
COBO has taken steps to define a standardized on-board optical module. At OFC 2018, COBO members displayed various solutions complementing mid-board optics. The industry seems to be waiting for the “killer app” to enable widespread adoption of the COBO standard.
In any case, Samtec’s FireFly™ Micro Flyover System™ offers designers the flexibility of using micro footprint optical and copper interconnects interchangeably with the same connector system. Multiple “End 2” optical connector options make easy customization possible.
Samtec OFC 2018 Demonstrations
OFC 2018 offered the ideal timing for several new Samtec product releases. Samtec, its partners, and customers featured multiple next-generation product demonstrations for both copper and optical communications applications.
A partial list is shown below:
- Optimized Modular Switch Architecture via Flyover QSFP-DD Solutions
- Samtec COBO 112 Gbps PAM4 Demonstrator
- 28 Gbps FireFly™ on Xilinx Virtex UltraScale+ FPGA VCU118 Evaluation Kit
- Samtec PCIe®-Over-Fiber Adaptor Card (PCOA Series)
- Samtec Flyover QSFP-DD-enabled 56 Gbps PAM4 Modular Switch Architecture
- Low-power, 50 Gbps NRZ FPGA SerDes over FireFly™ Edge Card Socket
- Customized Mid-Board Optical Engines in Novel Customer Applications
Stay tuned to the Samtec blog for additional details on each of these demonstrations. In the meantime, please click the following links for more information.
- FireFly™ Application Design Guide
- Flyover™ QSFP Design Guide
- High Speed Cable Interconnect Solutions Guide
- Chalk Talk Webinar — Midboard Optics: An Alternative to Pluggable MSA Solutions