It boggles my mind how quickly technology moves, and how rapidly
things that were once a part of our everyday lives have become obsolete.
Some people today approach things that my generation grew up
with, such as
a rotary phone, with the same perplexity as
we would have looked at a tool from the Bronze Age. What is the
cause of this accelerating pace of obsolescence? Moore’s
Law states that processing power in integrated circuits doubles every two
years; which is why it is widely cited as the reason behind the rapidly
evolving pace of technology. The driving force of evolution for electronics is to
become faster, more capable and less expensive. Other technologies don’t get
quite as much of the spotlight as integrated circuits, but they have also made
significant contributions to the rapid rate of change. Fiber-optic technology
is a perfect example.
Fiber helps make it possible to move incredible amounts of
information around the globe at
increasingly lower costs. Optical fiber, along with
the equipment it interconnects, helps to make bandwidth affordable and
accessible. Without fiber optics, the internet as we know it would simply not
Even though fiber optic communication systems were
deployed nearly 40 years ago, innovations continue to be made to increase
bandwidth while minimizing costs. Data centers, which increasingly rely on
fiber to connect servers, switches and storage, have moved beyond 10 gigabit
per second (Gb/s) fiber connectivity. 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s interconnects are
becoming commonplace and standards
are now being set to achieve 400 Gb/s transmission. To accommodate this
bandwidth trajectory, new fiber technology is being developed that
significantly increases bandwidth while maintaining backward compatibility with
existing fiber and applications.
This newest fiber to arrive is known as
band multimode fiber (WBMMF). Whereas conventional multimode fiber was
designed to optimally support a single wavelength, WBMMF is designed to evenly accommodate
multiple wavelengths. The fiber’s
capacity grows with each additional wavelength.
550 WideBand fiber cabling for a technology demonstration with Finisar at the
OFC 2015 conference. Four
wavelengths at 25 Gb per second (Gb/s) were
combined together and transmitted over the LazrSPEED 550 WideBand fiber, meaning
that 100 Gb/s Ethernet traffic could be sent and received over just two fibers for
distances significantly exceeding those of conventional fibers. The current
standard for 100 Gb/s Ethernet over multimode, known as 100GBASE-SR4, requires
eight fibers. This technology allows a fourfold reduction in the number of
fibers, thus extending the two-fiber application space from 25 Gb/s to 100Gb/s.
It still amazes me how
fast technology evolves. The way I
feel when thinking about how far technology has evolved since the rotary phone
I used to own many years ago is the same feeling I get when seeing new
generations of fiber optic technology arrive on the market.
In the video below, Rich Baca discusses the
Wideband demonstration at the OFC show.