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Challenges for Data Centers Optical Transceivers

With the fast development of data centers, there will be more severe challenges on how to design, manufacture, use and maintain the transceivers.

Cost Control

It is not easy to control the transceiver cost. The growth of data center traffic accelerates the need for next-generation networking equipment. These devices must support higher port density and faster speed. And this pushes the need for large-scale deployment of optical modules. However, with the increase of port speed, the cost per bit will rise as well, especially in transceivers, which take a large part of the total hardware cost. For example, the price of a third-party 400G transceiver reaches several thousands of dollars, let alone an OEM one. And if network service providers need to deploy 400G networks on a large scale, the cost will be extremely high.

Module Design and Manufacturing

Nowadays, many high-rate applications like 5G result in the increase of port speed in data center switches and servers, which cause the ASIC capacity of the servers and switches to increase. And then the electrical signal rate will migrate from 25Gb/s to 50Gb/s, 100Gb/s or higher to enable all of the capacity to enter or exit the ASIC. Each time the rate increases, the challenge in moving the electrical signals across a linecard to the front panel of the router or switch becomes much greater, leading to the increased speed need of fiber optical modules as well as the complex of module design and manufacturing.


The devices in a data center are normally provided by different suppliers. Although there are standard interface requirements for optical transceivers, optical modules offered by different vendors come with various module codes. Transceivers offered by one manufacturer may not be compatible with other manufacturers. Even if the third-party transceiver vendors have gradually entered to solve the problem, the vendor-lock situation and interoperability of these modules remain as big issues.


Data center equipment generates a lot of heat while working. The heat is difficult to dissipate and will make the indoor temperature rise sharply. This will leave the physical equipment in an extremely unfavorable high temperature environment, which can easily cause machine failure or even downtime. In data center systems, high-density optical modules also generate a certain amount of heat, which has negative effects to cool the data center. Therefore, it is particularly important to reduce module power consumption with the increase of data rate. High-speed, high-density and low-power optical module support will become an important measure for the sustainable development of data centers.



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