The adoption of mobile devices, running data-intensive applications, and 4G LTE networks are a few of the key factors driving the demand for high bandwidth requirements. The recent Optical Fiber Communications (OFC) conference showcased the latest new products to meet the growing requirements for fiber optic connectors used across these growing high-bandwidth applications.
The global fiber optic connector market is forecast to reach $4.4 billion by 2021, up from $2.7 billion in 2014, according to Transparency Market Research. The report, Fiber Optic Connectors Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 – 2021 , finds the sector is dominated by LC connectors while the telecom industry was the biggest consumer of fiber optic connectors for transmission of high volumes of data. Leading global players include Amphenol, 3M, Arris Group, TE Connectivity, Hitachi, Avago Technologies, Diamond SA, Sumitomo Electric Industries, and Furukawa Electric.
To keep up with increased bandwidth demand from a variety of applications, including mobile devices, M2M connections, faster broadband, and advanced video, suppliers in the telecom supply chain are driving the development and adoption of new technologies for very high bandwidth interfaces.
One of the most recent is the Multi Source Agreement (MSA) Group’s collaboration to develop high-speed, double-density quad small form factor pluggable (QSFP-DD) interfaces. The QSFP-DD MSA is supported by Broadcom, Brocade, Cisco, Finisar, Foxconn Interconnect Technology, Intel, Juniper Networks, Lumentum, Luxtera, Mellanox Technologies, Molex, Oclaro, and TE Connectivity.
Expanding on the QSFP pluggable form factor, the new QSFP-DD interface will use eight lanes that operate up to 25 Gbit/s NRZ modulation or 50 Gbit/s PAM4 modulation. This will provide solutions up to 200 Gbit/s or 400 Gbit/s aggregate, enabling up to 14.4 Tbit/s aggregate bandwidth in a single switch slot, according to the QSFP-DD MSA Group. In addition, the new interface will be backward compatible to the existing QSFP family of modules.
“The goal is ensuring mechanical, electrical, thermal and signal-integrity interoperability for module components produced by different manufacturers,” said Molex. “The need for high-speed solutions is unmistakable,” said Scott Sommers, group product manager, Molex, in a statement. “This MSA is a critical part of meeting that need, and Molex will contribute its leadership in complete I/O solutions — including connectors, copper cable and fiber optics. We are delighted to be working with Cisco and other partners to meet the challenge of developing a double-density interface that meets or exceeds industry expectations.”
One of Molex’s demonstrations at OFC focused on its Impel Plus Backplane Connector System, operating in compliance to OIF CEI-56G-LR, on various channel lengths using advanced hybrid dielectric materials and Credo Semiconductor’s PAM4 test silicon. The live demonstration provided a complete high-speed link, leveraging Credo’s PAM4 SerDes technology to transmit 56 Gbit/s PAM4 data through the Impel/Impel Plus copper backplane.
As higher speeds produce insertion loss and degraded signal integrity performance, the new backplane platform is designed to deliver optimal signal integrity, reduced crosstalk and improved insertion loss to deliver faster data rates, according to Molex. Impel Plus connectors are compliant with IEEE 100GBASE-KR, 100GBASE-KP and the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) CEI-25G-LR.
Other new optical solutions from Molex include the MXC optical interconnect solution with the FlexiBend boot cable assemblies, which delivers the ability to bend and direct fiber in any direction in tight spaces including equipment cabinets and high-density racks and high-density, and a series of multiport optical EMI shielding adapters.
At OFC, TE demonstrated some of its latest products including advanced mid-board optical (MBO) modules that feature TE’s Coolbit optical engines, QSFP and QSFP28 active optical connectors and cable assemblies, and the industry’s first microQSFP optical transceiver and new microQSFP high-speed solutions, focused on thermal performance, rack unit faceplate density, and data throughput capabilities.
The active optical cable market is forecast to reach $3.43 billion by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.1 percent during the forecast period, according to a new report published by MarketsandMarkets. The biggest drivers for growth include increasing bandwidth requirements and deployments of data centers.
TE said it will be the first to develop microQSFP connectors, cages and cable assemblies in accordance with the final specification released by the microQSFP MSA group in March. The microQSFP Specification Version 2.0 allows system designers, optical module manufacturers and copper cable assembly providers to develop next-generation hardware based on the microQSFP definition, said the group. The document includes electrical, mechanical, thermal and management specifications of the microQSFP module and cage. Taking the lead in the microQSFP MSA, TE expects to have products available this year.
“The microQSFP form factor provides QSFP28 connector functionality for networking equipment, but in a smaller generally SFP-sized form factor that provides 33 percent higher density,” said TE. “The microQSFP specification allows designers to fit up to 72 ports on a standard 1RU line card, saving significant design space. In addition, microQSFP products will offer significantly better thermal performance than any other pluggable solution on the market today, requiring less energy to cool networking equipment and increasing the ease and possibilities of system thermal design.
” Connector manufacturers are also working on new single fiber optic designs. For example, nanoPrecision Products recently shared third-party optical and environmental testing data from Experior Laboratories that shows that its fiber optic connector -the Ferrolder – outperforms traditional ceramic SC style ferrules and connectors. and qualifies for a Single Optical Connector SC-UPC Kit by Verizon.
The company touts the connector’s novel design that combines the ferrule connector and holder in one. It’s constructed from titanium and does not use epoxy. It is backward compatible with traditional ceramic fiber optic connectors. The product is expected to launch in the second half of 2016.
Another new design comes from Fischer Connectors. The company expanded its FiberOptic series with a new rugged single fiber optic connector (FO1). The miniature and lightweight connector ensures performance even in harsh environments with IP68 sealing. The FO1 connector has been tested to withstand temperatures of -40 deg C.
In addition, the FO1 connector features a push-pull locking system that allows for easy connections and disconnections, which make them well suited for outdoor applications. Other features include a removable sleeve holder and UPC and APC polishing to reduce insertion and return losses. The FO1 connector is available either in pre-configured reels or integrated into custom assemblies.
“The product line’s main benefits – high optical stability in harsh environments, robustness, and ease of use, cleaning and maintenance – remain the same,” said Christopher Martin, FiberOptic product manager at Fischer Connectors, in a statement. “But we’ve designed this smaller product to be even lighter and more flexible so that it’s easy to integrate into existing solutions, saving time and money for our customers.”
The FiberOptic Series is available in two other versions: a rugged fiber optic connector with two or four fibers, and a rugged hybrid connector with two fiber channels and two electrical contacts.