Notes from OFC 22

Notes from the OFC Convention

There’s a lot of reasons to go to an industry trade show in early March, particularly in San Diego. Coming from the northeast at the end of a long winter of frigid cold, San Diego’s sunshine and unblemished blue skies is alluring.  The making of and partaking in industry buzz is another. And, face-to-face, Networking with optical engineers and scientists, the behind-the-scenes movers and shakers of the photonics industry, was extraordinarily rewarding given the two-year OFC hiatus due to COVID.

About OFC 22 and the fiber optic market

OFC is the largest fiber optics industry convention in the world. For 45 years, this eminent trade show has provided unparalleled opportunities: to meet international industry players, learn about new, exciting products, inventions and trends, and build your brand. This year’s show took place at the San Diego Convention Center from March  6th -10th. The 430 exhibitors (and 8000 attendees) included representatives from Infinera, EOptolink, Intel, Cisco, Nokia,  Murata, Innolight, EOptolink, Corning, Viavi Solutions, Tektronix, Vitex and many others.

The turnout this year, historically very international, was lower than pre-COVID as many of the Asian companies are grappling with the Omicron variant, but the quality of presentations and interest of attendees more than made up for that. Quiet and very focused, the crowd was fully engaged.

One highlight was the many informative presentations on fascinating futuristic topics, including one lead by James Green, a NASA scientist who took attendees on a journey to the moon and Mars, to chronicle how optical communications will help upcoming missions.

Trending topics included artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, sustainability, what happens after 800G (networks) (and the metaverse). Demonstrations of 400G and 800G pluggables, co-packaged optics and coherent pluggables developed to meet increasing data center demands were, beside the beer, another attraction. I learned cloud data centers are moving inexorably towards the 400GE/800GE era. Copy that.

Vitex, which hosted a popular booth, demoed new and unique products which solve practical engineering problems. Our active electric cables and analog-based active optical cables commanded the attention of key industry players. The AEC, constructed solely of copper, features low latency, low power consumption and cost while resolving many limitations of traditional Direct Attach Copper Cables (DAC) which are incapable of transmitting high speeds over long distances. Our 400G AEC can transmit data as far as 7m, a big improvement over the 2.5m DAC. We also introduced our 200G & 400G PAM4 AOC. Constructed of pure fiber, this optical cable runs on analog rather than digital chips. Designed by optics engineers for high-performance computing, data centers and 200G and 400G networks, it’s engineered to reduce noise interference while lowering cost, power and latency.

All in all, a memorable experience. Until next year.

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