With networks and data centers all going wireless and into the clouds, Mellanox is announcing the volume production of a new 96G/100Gb/s SR4 multi-mode 4-channel transceiver with one of the top worldwide wireless infrastructure suppliers. The solution features an extended temperature range for supporting outside plant optical front haul links in the Fifth Generation of Mobile Networks, and supports dual line rates as well as both protocols of Ethernet and CPRI or Common Public Radio Interface which are used primarily between remote radio heads (RRH) and base band units (BBU).
“Front haul” links are named thus because the traffic is carried from the cellular antennas to base station controllers, which is at the front of the wireless network. Since wireless antennas are generally found in an outside plant environment, the SR4 CPRI transceiver has a wider temperature rating.
With trials beginning in China and around the world in late 2018, and with full deployments estimated to begin in 2019, this new transceiver is suitable for short-reach outside plant optical transmission between remote radio head (RRH) and base band units (BBU). Multi-mode transceivers create the lowest cost optical links and can be used both inside base stations as well as for short reaches up to 100 meters running up to the top of antenna structures. More expensive single-mode transceivers are used for longer reaches.
CPRI/fiber links are rapidly replacing microware systems and are positioned to play well with Centralized Radio Access Networks (C-RAN) and software-defined-everything in the future.
What’s Driving the Move to 5G?
All of these demand factors are coming at Internet systems all at once which is driving data traffic through the roof and is at the root of multi-acre-sized hyperscale data centers which seem to be popping up everywhere:
When Will 5G Be Relevant?
The bottom line is that carriers and everyone in the content supply chain knows there will be big money in 5G and new revenue streams from new 5G applications and capabilities. The pressure is on to accelerate deployments and so are the standards battles for alternative approaches poised to delay everything.
The new 5th generation wireless network scheduled to come on line beginning in 2019 will provide a much faster and efficient connection to cellular wireless equipment. Offering more than just a faster line rate, 5G will improve the connection quality and range. Preliminary tests have shown data rates as high as 10 Gb/s to the cell phone which reflects an application game changer!
Mellanox 100G SR4 CPRI Transceiver Features
The newly announced 100Gb/s SR4 transceiver for wireless networks has its genesis in the highly popular, standard temperature version of the 100G SR4 for hyperscale, Web 2.0 Cloud and enterprise data centers. Unique features include:
The CPRI SR4 transceiver is designed using Mellanox’s own designed transceiver control ICs for VCSEL laser drivers and TIA receiver amplifiers. The close matching of driver and receiver electronics with optics enables the SR4 to boast a 1.5W typical power consumption without retiming and 2.2W with retiming – some of the lowest power ratings in the industry. With power budgets skyrocketing, every Watt saved at the component level translates into several Watts of system cooling and related power consumption driving fans, and AC equipment. Powering remotely located equipment is very expensive.
Besides Mellanox designing and building an entire transceiver, Mellanox also builds switching systems, and the transceivers are tested in real switching systems such as the 32-port 100G SN2700 switch, and not simulated on a test bench as most competitors do. By building our own electronics and transceivers, as well as testing in real systems, this guarantees they will work out of the box and at a bit error ratio (BER) of 1E-15. This is about 1,000 fewer bit errors than the IEEE industry standard of 5E-5 and using forward error correction (FEC) to achieve 1E-12. The additional BER rating enables a wider margin for components in difficult operating conditions of outside plant.
Three Converging Factors Changing CPRI Networks:
These factors lead to CPRI network builders adopting standard 4x25G (100G) QSFP28 Ethernet transceivers already being produced in huge unit volumes which should enable lower network costs and faster deployments. Dual rate capability makes it a double hit.
While standards, software architectures, hardware architecture of central office-based or distributed BBU, C-RAN or not, and buzz-words are all in a high state of flux, a few things are clear:
Mellanox’s dual protocol, dual rate SR4 transceiver using Mellanox designed ICs, manufactured and tested by Mellanox in Mellanox systems and optimized for very low-power consumption and low bit error rates makes it a perfect low-cost choice for CPRI/Ethernet networks.