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Connector specification developed for on board optical modules

Following a collaborative industry effort, the Consortium for On-Board Optics (COBO) has chosen the electrical connector for a forthcoming standard which, it says, will define the key component for mounting on-board optical modules to PCBs.

The effort combines TE’s proposal for the high-speed connection – in which electrical signals pass at 50Gbit/s per lane between the PCB and the module – and Samtec’s proposal for the low-speed connection, which brings DC power and a control and management interface to the module. The combination will proceed towards a final socketed form factor for on-board optics.

COBO’s Data Center Networking (DCN) working group has been focusing on lowering deployment costs, helping to avoid vendor lock-in and growing the optics market, while developing eight and 16 lane wide connectors to enable modules to support 400G and twin 400G modules respectively. The group is now looking at modules that can support 1.6Tbit/s using the 16 lane wide connector. The DCN group is now refining the optical module’s dimensions to allow development and testing of prototypes to begin.

Jeffery Maki, COBO’s vice president and DCN chair, noted: “As a result of the selection of an electrical connector specification, system companies and module integrators will be able to develop solutions based on on-board optics to satisfy their end-customers’ requirements.”

Microsoft Principal Architect Brad Booth, COBO’s president, added: “The selection of the connector is a major step forward that resulted from inputs on electrical performance, thermal modelling and PCB design considerations. We are defining a module which can carry us through more than one generation of speed, while enabling the industry to prepare for the inevitable progression of optics inside the box.”

Graham Pitcher

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