Co-packaged Optics are Coming!

Are Co-Packaged Optics the future? 

Microsoft and Facebook are teaming up on Co-Packaged Optics (CPO). Co-Packaged optics are “the intimate coupling of optics with an ASIC in one package. Such tightly-coupled optics promises to overcome the growing system challenges associated with linking an ASIC’s high-speed signals to pluggable optics residing on a platform’s faceplate.” Microsoft and Facebook are looking to solve the problems with data center designs and collaborate in new technologies that will influence new growth in the space. In addition, they want to make sure there are no switching issues by coming up with initial plans of common design elements for the suppliers and manufacturers of the co-packaged optics. “Co-packaged optics have been a hot topic in the industry, but until today there has been a lack of a cohesive end-user voices for their need,” said Sameh Boujelbene, senior director, Dell’Oro Group, in a prepared statement. “The CPO Collaboration initiated by Microsoft and Facebook clearly indicates that the end-user community is ready for the industry to develop this technology.”

With Microsoft and Facebook putting a ton of weight behind Co-Packaged Optics, there will be other companies that will want a say about the products and specifications of the packages. Facebook director of technology, Katharine Schmidtke talked about sharing specifications with other companies. “By sharing the specifications, we aim to develop a diverse and innovative supplier ecosystem.” Also, vendors of the CPO supply chain will want to evaluate if they should make an effort to put products toward CPO. The vendors won’t care about the short term, but rather the long-term gain coming from CPO.

“The CPO Collaboration is being developed under the auspices of the Joint Development Foundation, which is an independent nonprofit organization that provides the corporate and legal framework to enable groups to establish and operate standards and source code development collaborations” from Mike Robuck, FierceTelecom.

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