Mellanox 200G Cables and Transceivers, LinkX, Debuts at OCP


A look at the new Mellanox LinkX 200G Cables and Transceivers,as shown at OCP 2019.

The First Showing of 200G End-to-End Interconnects

Mellanox showed the LinkX 200G Cables and Transceivers Display at Open Compute Project in March in San Jose, CA.  LinkX is always a crowd pleaser and constant source of people taking pictures – especially the 100G and 200G cables and transceivers that were on display.  OCP was the first showing of the complete the end-to-end offering of 200G DACs, AOCs and multi-mode transceivers with the ConnectX-6 dual-port 200G Ethernet adapter and the new Spectrum-2 200G Ethernet switch.

LinkX 50, 100 and 200Gbe Cables and Transceivers

Single 50G-to-Quad 50G Splitter DAC and AOC Cables and Transceivers

New Spectrum-2 Ethernet Switch

Offering 32-ports of 200G QSFP56 Ethernet, the new Spectrum-2 switch is Mellanox’s next generation of end-to-end Ethernet interconnect systems and offers 128 SerDes.

Mellanox 200G 32-Port SN3700 Spectrum-2 Ethernet Switch

New 200G 32-Port SN3700 Spectrum-2 Ethernet Switch

Splitting Hairs and Ports!

The Spectrum-2 switch supports 128 SerDes in the Switch IC.  By using the LinkX 200G-to-Dual 100G splitter DAC or AOC cables or even transceivers with splitter fiber cables (shown above), the Spectrum-2 switch can support 64-ports of 100G QSFP56 (2x50G PAM4) or 128-ports of 50G using 4x50G SFP56 splitter. Note that only the switch ports can be split and not the network adapter ports.

Upwards and Downwards Compatibility

Although, the 100G is based on 2-lanes of 50G PAM4, it is not downward compatible with the 4-channel x 25G NRZ ports.  The Spectrum-2 does support upwards compatibility of using 4x25G NRZ devices into the 200G ports but not the reverse. Because the 50G PAM4 signal modulation scheme is different from previous NRZ generations, its recommended to use all 50G-PAM4-based Spectrum-2 switches, ConnectX-6 network adapters including cables and transceivers.

QSA Port Adapter

Lastly, we recently announced the QSA56 port adapter.  Invented and patented by Mellanox, this device is one of those things in life a data center builder can’t live without!  Sort of like that 3-prong -to-2-prong 110V plug adapter for power cords.  Cheap but when you need it, … really need it.

This device enables using just about any SFP56, SFP28 or SFP+ DAC, AOC or transceiver and passing a single-channel through into a quad-channel switch or network adapter port. Hence, the name QSFP-to-SFP Adapter. The QSA 56 has a small EEPROM inside that tells the switch or network adapter what it is but otherwise, the device is passive.

New 50G QSA QSFP-to-SFP Port Adapter – On the Left with SFP56 AOC inserted Part Way

Key Take-Aways:

200G end-to-end switches, network adapters including cables and transceivers are here now and generally available (GA).  Why wait for 400G when you can double your bandwidth today at a small premium price over 100G? Upgrading to 200G from 100G entails a minimum of changes, unlike moving to 8-channel 400G with new form-factors, internal gear boxes, optical multiplexers and new optical connectors not to mention 10-15 Watts of power per device!


 Supporting Resources: 

You can find more technical details about Mellanox DAC, AOCs cables, transceivers and ICs:

Contact your Mellanox sales representative for availability and pricing options and stay tuned to my blog more interconnect news and tips.

Sign up for free ebook download here: LinkX Cables and Transceivers ebook

About Brad Smith

Brad is the Director of Marketing at Mellanox, based in Silicon Valley for the LinkX cables and transceivers business focusing on hyperscale, Web 2.0, enterprise, storage and telco markets. Recently, Brad was Product Line Manager for Intel’s Silicon Photonics group for CWDM4/CLR4 and QSFP28 product lines and ran the 100G CLR4 Alliance. Director of Marketing & BusDev at OpSIS MPW Silicon Photonics foundry. President/COO of LuxSonar Semiconductors ( Cirrus Logic) and co-founder & Director of Product Marketing of NexGen, a X86-compatible CPU company sold to AMD - now the X86 product line. Brad also has ~15 years in technology market research as Vice president of the Computer Systems group at Dataquest/Gartner; VP/Chief Analyst at RHK and Light Counting networking research firms. Brad started his career at Digital Equipment near Boston with the VAX 11/780 and has served as CEO, president/COO and on the board-of-directors of three start-up companies. Brad has a BSEE degree from the University of Massachusetts; MBA from University of Phoenix and holds 2 optical patents

Comments are closed.