Silicon Photonics, the Cloud, and Big Data Analytics

A perfect storm of forces are driving implementation of parallel single-mode quad (PSM4) and silicon photonics (SiPh) in next-generation data center designs architectures.

Cloud use is only accelerating.  An IBM study found 70% of businesses reported using cloud-based analytics with 66% planning to deploy new cloud-based technologies.  Gartner predicts the estimated global cloud market reaching $180 billion by 2016.

An IDC report predicts spend by small-medium businesses on cloud solutions growing 20% over five years, with 3 in 10 midsize firms adopting public cloud solutions. (Source: IDC Cloud Computing in the Midmarket: Assessing the Options in 2013)  Shifting data to the cloud proves in many cases to be more cost-effective and efficient than building IT capacity.  Analyst Forrester went so far as to predict IT departments disappearing by 2020.

On a consumer level, with Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and more, entertainment is steadily transitioning from the traditional set-time model to an on-demand model 24/7.

“Big Data” comprises all of the above plus data stored by entities globally—governments, healthcare systems, scientific researchers, academia, and more.  Data no longer has a shelf life.  Advances in database capacity and management enable large-scale data-based relational information, even where data is in disparate types, formats, and across different systems.  Nearly all data has become potentially useful—stored indefinitely to be mined for information and relationship analysis.

These aggregate trends create enormous demand for large-scale infrastructures to store and support data.  Next-generation data centers are larger, more distributed, and require scalability and uniformity of performance coupled with low latency for smooth data flow.  Despite some optimistic predictions the transition to fiber optics did not solve every issue.  Few predicted VCSEL-based optics experiencing similar bottleneck challenges as high-speed copper interconnects.

PSM4 and SiPh fill this important gap in data center interconnect options – a gap between the reach of 25G multimode options and long-range optical approaches.  Low power SiPh-based PSM4 helps resolve multiple bandwidth challenges and longer distances.  For many Molex customers the technology provides an economical option for what can be referred to as medium-reach distances—with the bonus of a proven technology path beyond 25G.