LightTrends Newsletter

Emerging market for Linear Drive Optics

April 2023

by Vlad Kozlov

This was by far the hottest topic of OFC 2023 and a surprise for many of the attendees. Discussions on linear drive optical transceivers using 100G per lane signaling on both electrical and optical sides were limited to OIF meetings for the past two years. OFC was the first open event where the topic was introduced to the public. LightCounting and IPEC (The International Photonics & Electronics Committee) co-hosted a webinar at the end of March to discuss the progress of the development and adoption of this technology, attracting more than 750 live attendees and more than 1,000 total viewers.

Co-Packaged Optics (CPO) and Linear Pluggable Optics (LPO) are potential technologies to satisfy the low power consumption and high bandwidth of data center networks. IPEC is an open international standards organization focusing on cutting-edge optoelectronic technologies. Such optoelectronic technologies have also become a hot topic as well as the ongoing and upcoming standardization work of IPEC. Therefore, IPEC jointly co-hosted this webinar with LightCounting, aiming to discuss the challenges faced by Linear Drive Optics and promote the standardization progress together with industry partners.

LightCounting expects to see the first deployments of linear drive pluggable transceivers in the end of 2024. However, the deployments will be limited in scale until standards are developed and multiple vendors start offering standard products. Large customers, such as the leading Cloud companies, cannot afford a risk of deploying non-standard products, not supported by a vibrant supply chain.

This challenge is not unique for linear drive optics. All new technologies will benefit from an acceleration in developing new standards. One day an AI system may take a lead on this process, but until then, it is up to all of us.

Full text of the research note is available to LightCounting clients at:

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