Third-party Optics and Rise of 400 Gbps: Some Speculations
Rapid growth in the 400G market has been “just a year away” for more than five years now. But it seems plausible that 2020 will be the year of 400G. The pushing of demand are the usual suspects; more video and cloud storage that need ever more bandwidth. In hyperscale data centers, core network architectures are reportedly upgraded every couple of years. It has been at least two years since the biggest data centers abandoned 10G and 40G for 100G, so now it’s time for 400G.
On the supply side, the latest 12.8 Tbps ASICs are being used to fabricate next-gen switches capable of delivering 32 ports of 400 Gbps. (Although we note that these chips are also used to power high-density 100 Gbps switches.) Meanwhile, 100G single-lambda (100G-DR or 100G-FR) transceiver products are becoming available and these are capable of directly interoperating with 400G transceivers in a breakout topology. Aggregating four 100G per wavelength lanes, the technology platform can support 400G varietals such as 400G DR4, 400G FR4 and 4x100G for breakout applications.
Given all of the above, most observers foresee millions of 400G transceivers being sold in 2020. The rise of 400G will also be good for the third-party suppliers, who sell unbranded transceivers that they code identically with OEM-sourced transceivers. Here are three reasons why third-party transceiver companies may do well in the new 400G market.
#1 Cost, of course: The number one reason why end users buy transceivers from third-party suppliers is cost. The discount on a branded OEM transceiver that third-party suppliers are able to offer can often be well over 80 percent, which is extraordinary. It is not clear yet that this level of discount will be available on 400 Gbps.
But if it is, savings to end users from third-party 400G modules could be in the order of thousands of dollars per transceivers. In such a case, the savings made from buying third party 400G modules may be enough to buy a much better switch.
#2 Availability: A third-party party optics provider can offer a wide line of transceivers that sometimes even OEMs cannot provide. If you need long reach 1G SFP ZX 160km optics for your fiber slot in Cisco switch, you won’t find original ones, but many 3rd party can meet your needs and deliver it within 1 week. Many 3rd party suppliers have a huge stock of optics and you can get most of the them with the same day shipping.
By providing you with a single contact window, third party vendors can save you valuable time by providing support for multiple manufacturers all wrapped up in a single contract. As a result, you won’t have to juggle several service contracts from OEM manufacturers. Third party vendors are capable of delivering an array of customized optics to meet your special needs.