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Single multicore fibre breaks records with Emcore's VCSEL technology

OFS says this is an important milestone in the development of next-generation supercomputer and data centre networks

OFS, a developer and supplier of innovative fibre optic network products, has announced a world record transmission of 120 Gb/s over 100 metres across a single strand of multimode fibre.

The joint demonstration was enabled by a seven-core laser-optimised multimode fibre made with OFS LaserWave fibre technology interfaced with custom-designed transceivers from IBM Research (Yorktown Heights, NY), using custom-designed VCSELs and photodiodes from Emcore. It exceeded both the previous transmission length record by 60 metres and the previous data rate record by 50 percent.

"This demonstration illustrates the viability of multi-core multimode fibre as a transmission medium for next-generation high-performance computer networks," said Durgesh S. Vaidya, senior manager of R&D at OFS. "With advanced light sources such as the Emcore custom arrays, systems designers will be able to achieve the extremely high transmission speeds predicted for future networks while increasing cable density with the opportunity for reducing packaging costs."

The OFS fibre consists of seven graded-index multimode cores in a hexagonal array. Each of the six outer cores transmits at 20 Gb/s over 100 metres. They employ Emcore's two-dimensional VCSELs arrays and vertically illuminated photodiodes, fabricated, in a commercial process, with a geometry corresponding to the outer six cores of the fibre. The fibre's 26 µm core size is directly compatible with the photodiodes needed for 25 Gb/s (20 – 30 µm diameter). The 20 Gb/s VCSELs were flipped chip packaged on an IBM-designed transceiver package with 130 nm CMOS ICs, and the full link was characterised by IBM Research with all six channels running error-free simultaneously.

OFS believes the additional bandwidth density provided by the multi-core fibre link over standard multimode links will help to enable efficient next-generation high-performance computers and data centres, while the larger core sizes compared to single-mode fibre solutions serve to help keep packaging costs sustainable.

"The expected increase in demand for optical fibre cable in these applications will result in significant network design challenges," Vaidya said. "While bandwidth requirements continue to grow, network managers face considerable constraints on power and cost budgets, not to mention the physical space required by the fibre cabling. Increasing the bandwidth available on each fibre is a critical step in developing optical interconnects for future networks, not only for high-performance computing but also for data-centres, another key growth market for optical fibre."

OFS' corporate lineage dates back to 1876 and includes technology powerhouses such as AT&T and Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent). Today, OFS is owned by Furukawa Electric, a multi-billion dollar global leader in optical communications.

OFS will be showcasing its products at OFC/ NFOEC 2012 at booth #2125. The conference is taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Centre from March 4th to 8th in Los Angeles, California.
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