OIF Takes an Early Look at 400G

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) is taking an early step towards 400Gbit/s, announcing on Wednesday that it's set up a committee to look into the requirements for modules. That's not the same thing as standardizing 400Gbit/s. The OIF isn't ready to anoint a particular modulation format, for example, the way it did with 100Gbit/s. Instead, the Physical and Link Layer Working Group will do some prep work. At the OIF quarterly meeting last week, members decided to start studying the properties that a 400Gbit/s module would have to have -- size and power, for instance. That, in turn, will let component vendors know the constraints under which they'll be developing. "They need to see a target for their development dollars," says Karl Gass, a consultant for TriQuint Semiconductor Inc. and vice-chair of the working group. Why this matters
If it wasn't clear already, it is now: The industry has chosen to standardize on 400Gbit/s rather than make the jump straight to 1Tbit/s. It makes sense, given the hefty amount of development 1Tbit/s is going to take. The elements for 400Gbit/s are more within reach. You could also interpret this, and the pending Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) effort towards a 400Gbit/s standard, as signs that the need will become acute by the time standards are complete. Vendors often get coy about discussing advanced R&D in standards bodies, because they don't want to encourage copycats, but "in general, at the last minute, people will stand up and say, 'This is necessary.' So we can be sure we're at the last minute," Gass says. For more — Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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