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The emergence of faster data rates to keep pace with the demands for data poses a number of technical challenges. While this is not a new or radical thought, the radical conversation on how to combat these challenges—specifically when it comes to the resources, like energy—is imperative to fuel this data deluge. Among the problems that became apparent even at 10 Gbps is the power consumption of copper-interconnect signals within systems—and the problem is compounded at 25 Gbps data rates. Power consumed by the networking equipment alone significantly contributes to the overall energy consumption problem of data centers that is estimated at 30 Billion watts worldwide.

The emergence of faster data rates to keep pace with the demands for data poses a number of technical challenges. While this is not a new or radical thought, the radical conversation on how to combat these challenges—specifically when it comes to the resources, like energy—is imperative to fuel this data deluge. Among the problems that became apparent even at 10 Gbps is the power consumption of copper-interconnect signals within systems—and the problem is compounded at 25 Gbps data rates. Power consumed by the networking equipment alone significantly contributes to the overall energy consumption problem of data centers that is estimated at 30 Billion watts worldwide.

The U.S. Department of Energy recognized the impact of massive data processing and storage many years ago. In addition to the recently updated Version 2.0 ENERGY STAR specification for Computer Servers that took effect on December 16, 2013, Version 1.0 ENERGY STAR specification for Data Center Storage was also finalized and took effect on December 2, 2013. Purchasing ENERGY STAR rated equipment should significantly lower a data center’s energy consumption and improve the bottom line by reducing energy costs. Acquiring an ENERGY STAR rating should help server and storage equipment suppliers differentiate and increase the sales of their products. More efficient data transmission can play a role in obtaining the ENERGY STAR rating.


Concerns for higher efficiency in data centers go beyond government organizations. For example, the Open Compute Project initiated by Facebook targets greater efficiency in servers and data centers. This type of industry interest places even further demands on more-efficient data communications that can benefit from the use of fiber optic technology. For high-speed communication beyond the first few meters, optics is a field-proven, energy efficient transport mechanism. Figure 1 shows the relative energy efficiency of optical and electrical links.


With core networking doubling every 18 months or so and server I/O density doubling approximately every 24 months (source: IEEE802.org), delaying the inevitable transition to higher-speed data transmission capability could prove costly for many companies

Coolbit Optical Engine Product Technology

Advancing the capabilities of fiber optics to accommodate the demands for 25 Gb/s and beyond is the challenge that has been met by TE Connectivity’s (TE) advanced Coolbit optical engine. This engine satisfies high-density and high-bandwidth requirements while running at about two-thirds the power of conventional solutions. The solution is based on the fully vertically-integrated fabrication of the Coolbit optical engine at TE’s facility in Stockholm, Sweden. This development process begins with the semiconductor fabrication of the VCSEL and Photodiode ICs; moves to the automated wafer assembly of the VCSEL, photodiode and other ICs; and ends with operational testing of the wafer that results in the final engine. Using in-house, automated wafer-level assembly, TE’s Coolbit optical engines are manufactured to semiconductor quality and reliability levels with passive self-alignment of VCSEL, photodiodes and ICs. These optical engines are optimized to perform at the emerging requirements for 25 Gb/s performance

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Contributed by TE CONNECTIVITY