March 21, 2022
Leaders in the optical communications and networking field gathered in San Diego for the first time in two years for OFC 2022. It was a homecoming of sorts for Anritsu, as we once again exhibited our technical leadership at the show. Many attendees met with us to learn about our digital and optical test solutions that help engineers design and manufacture components, devices, and systems for applications such as data centers and Internet of Things (IoT) use cases.
Those who made the trip to San Diego learned about existing and emerging digital and optical technologies, such as 400 GbE ZR, O-RAN, PAM4, and 800 GbE. Additionally, industry leaders shared insights and predictions on the direction of the market.
Shining a Light on Optical Technologies
OFC has always been a virtual crystal ball to highlight what was “next” in the optical world. The 2022 conference was no different. While there were many more technologies discussed in booths, during technical sessions, and the aisles, here are four that gained attention.
400 GbE ZR – One topic widely discussed during OFC was that 400 GbE ZR digital coherent tunable optics appear ready to fulfill their promise of enabling a varied ecosystem of compatible modular transceivers. Integral for data center interconnect applications, 400 GbE ZR pluggable optics are a simple and economical solution for transmitting 400G Ethernet.
Anritsu showed support for the technology in the Ethernet Alliance (EA) booth. An Ethernet Alliance member company, Anritsu conducted a demonstration on how its Network Master™ Pro MT1040A accurately measures the performance of 400G ZR digital coherent tunable optics (figure 1).
Recognizing the overall growth of 400 GbE, Anritsu also established a 400G Transport Testing Solutions hub. It provides educational materials that supports many of the technologies shown at OFC 2022 .
O-RAN – Optical fiber communications plays a key role in Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) architecture. The O-RAN ALLIANCE, a global community of mobile network operators, vendors, and research & academic institutions, developed the architecture to guide and foster a competitive open RAN ecosystem. O-RAN creates flexibility and cost efficiencies in 4G and 5G networks. Optical technologies are used in O-RAN front-haul, mid-haul, and back-haul transport aspects to help achieve the latency, synchronization, range, and mesh architectures utilized in 5G networks.
Anritsu, a Contributor member of the O-RAN ALLIANCE, showcased part of its test solution portfolio for O-RAN applications at OFC 2022. The Network Master™ Pro MT1000A all-in-one portable tester and ACCESS Master™ MT9085 series can be used to conduct 5G/O-RAN optical fiber deployment measurements during installation and maintenance.
PAM4 – High-speed and large-capacity transmission standards using PAM4 signaling are becoming widespread to meet wide bandwidth demands in applications such as data centers. PAM4 requires Forward Error Correction (FEC), a technique to detect and correct a limited number of errors in transmitted data without the need for retransmission. FEC is critical for advancing high-speed optical technologies, as it reduces transmission errors, extends the operating range, and reduces the power requirements for communications systems while increasing system throughput.
800 GbE – An IEEE panel at OFC 2022 discussed next-gen 800 GbE optical interfaces and future 1.6 TbE. The panel covered new developments in the industry and IEEE, including interoperable 800 Gbps coherent spec and new work that covers 1.6T or co-packaging. This panel showed the latest results, market drivers, and customer needs on these topics with a high level/application focus.
Anritsu’s support for 800 GbE was on full display at OFC 2022, as well. One example of Anritsu’s commitment to the high-speed technology was a joint live 800 GbE demonstration Anritsu conducted with Skorpios. The demonstration featured the Skorpios 800 GbE optical IC and Anritsu Signal Quality Analyzer-R MP1900A high-performance BERT.
Plenary Speakers Talked Advancements
OFC 2022 continued to position itself as a premier forum to learn about the bleeding edge of optical technology and its impact on innovation and society. The three plenary sessions during the conference ranged from advances in photonics and Industry 4.0 all the way to the moon and beyond.
Photonic Advances – John Bowers, Director, Institute of Energy Efficiency, University of California, Santa Barbara, discussed the evolution of photonics and their scaling from small wafers to large wafers. The advances have created a leap of eight generations of process technology, which allows for incredible precision and very large capacity electronics to solve the data bottlenecks currently in the market. Among the examples cited during the session were LIDAR and gyroscopes.
Optical Communications in Space – NASA Scientist and Senior Advisor James Green explained how the space agency is implementing optical communications for use in satellites that are part of missions to the moon and Mars. The goal of the missions is to learn how to live on a planetary surface. Optical communications technology is being used to achieve the high data rates necessary to transfer video, audio, and other data from space to earth. Arming the 4th Industrial Revolution – Elise Neel, senior vice president, New Business Incubation, Verizon, spoke of network as a service (NAAS), integrating it with mobile Edge computing and packaging it with intelligent software. A solution portfolio for the 4th industrial revolution now exists using these elements to advance the 5G economy. New transformative technologies, such as robotics, digital twins, and sensory technology, are being developed to make it happen.
Building off the return of in-person technical sessions, customer get togethers, product demonstrations and more, the present and future appear bright for the optical market. Given this positive industry opinion, OFC 2023, which will be held once again in San Diego, will continue to be a success.
Until then, visit the Anritsu Next Generation Signal Integrity Testing Resource hub. It houses videos, webinars, white papers, and other educational resources on digital and optical communications.