New MSA to Extend Pluggable I/O Capability

By Robert Hult | March 02, 2015

TE recently announced the intent to form a new MSA to create a standard for a new pluggable form factor that will deliver four duplex channels at 25Gb/s NRZ per channel.


TE I/O Interconnects

The race to ever-faster I/O interfaces continues to heat up. Design engineers are looking for ways to avoid a data bottleneck at the I/O panel while increasing signal density. A continuing series of connector and PCB footprint enhancements have enabled pluggable I/O interfaces such as SFP and QSFP to far exceed their original performance ratings. These interfaces are popular choices as they offer the option of both copper and fiber optic media. Depending on the bandwidth and length of the specific I/O link, system implementers can select the most efficient solution. The most recent iterations of SFP+ have demonstrated the ability to transmit up to 28Gb/s per module. QSFP+ connectors have already demonstrated the ability to run at up to 50Gb/s NRZ on one channel.

TE Connectivity recently announced the intent to form a new multi-source agreement (MSA) with the objective of creating a standard that will define the mechanical and thermal characteristics of a new pluggable form factor that will deliver four duplex channels at 25Gb/s NRZ per channel. The form factor is expected to be similar in size to the standard SFP with the data throughput comparable to QSFP28, resulting in greatly increased panel density. In an effort to ensure broad industry acceptance of this new interface, the MSA is expected to include multiple suppliers of chips, connectors, and optical modules as well as OEMs.

“By defining a standard that provides increased port density and thermal management properties, our MSA group will meet customer needs for higher faceplate density and aggregate bandwidth along with thermal improvements,” said Nathan Tracy, technologist, system architecture team, TE Connectivity.

Managing the thermal challenges created by the combination of higher data rates in a smaller envelope will be a key objective of the MSA. TE has been actively developing a basic concept of this new interface to utilize enhanced thermal mitigation techniques to achieve a balance between the electrical, thermal, and density objectives.

Initial target markets include next-generation data centers, but any equipment that will utilize 25Gb, 40Gb, or 100+ Gb Ethernet, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, or proprietary links will benefit from this interface.

Official announcement of the MSA and member participants is expected by the second quarter of 2015.

Robert Hult
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