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Optical modules in data centers play a big role

In data centers, optical modules exist everywhere, but few people mention them. In fact, optical modules are already the most widely used products in data centers. Today's data centers are basically optical fiber interconnection, and the situation of cable interconnection has become less and less. Therefore, without optical modules, data centers cannot operate at all. The optical module converts electrical signals into optical signals at the sending end through photoelectric conversion, and then transmits through optical fibers, and then converts the optical signals into electrical signals at the receiving end. That is to say, any optical module has two parts: transmitting and receiving. The function is to do photoelectric conversion and electro-optical conversion, so that the optical modules are inseparable from the equipment at both ends of the network. There are thousands of devices in a medium-sized data center. To realize all the interconnection of these devices, at least thousands of optical modules are required. Although the price of a single optical module is not high, the quantity is huge. Calculated in this way, the overall cost of purchasing optical modules for data centers is not low, and sometimes even exceeds the purchase amount of general network equipment, becoming a market segment in the data center.
Although the volume of the optical module is small, it has a great effect, and no data center can play without it. As the data center market continues to expand, it directly drives the continuous development of the optical module market. The global optical module market has grown rapidly in the past five years. As early as 2010, the global optical module market sales revenue was only 2.8 billion U.S. dollars. By 2014, the global optical module market had exceeded 4.1 billion U.S. dollars. It is expected that the optical module market sales will be in 2019. Revenue will increase to 6.6 billion U.S. dollars. Optical modules are developing toward ultra-high frequency, ultra-high-speed and ultra-large capacity. It is estimated that by 2017, the global revenue of 10G/40G/100G optical modules will reach 3.1 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for more than 55% of the overall optical module market. Among them, the compound annual growth rate of 40G optical modules and 100G optical modules will be as high as 17% and 36%, respectively. The huge market demand has made many manufacturers invest in them. It is also because of the huge profits in the optical module market that many people take the risk and do the business of counterfeiting optical modules. For example, bulk purchase of optical modules directly from optical module manufacturers, and then wholesale to other vendors or data center customers. There are also some modules that simply pretend to be regular optical module manufacturers, inferior to good ones, in exchange for high profits at low prices. Once this low-quality optical module is used, risks may come at any time. Some inferior optical modules generate a lot of heat, some optical modules have a lot of wrong packages, some optical modules are unstable, and some optical modules have internal information recording errors, etc. There are already a large number of inferior optical modules on the market, which has disrupted the market. . However, this also reflects the fact that the optical module market is relatively hot.
In fact, when you open the inside of the optical module, you can see that the structure is relatively simple and does not involve much complicated circuits. The only point is that the production process requirements are relatively high. Poor process technology will greatly affect the quality of its optical path. Modules cannot be connected, or some link error packets are often generated, which affects data forwarding. Especially nowadays high-speed optical modules such as 40G and 100G often put forward more requirements on the production process of optical modules. In this way, not all optical module manufacturers can produce such 100G optical modules. This also makes 100G optical modules more expensive. The price has remained high. The optical module is actually a product with high technical requirements. The technical content is high. The material cost of the optical module itself is not high, but the technical added value is high. Because the development of an optical module often requires optics, circuit technology, and network Researchers in many fields need to invest a lot of scientific research. The manpower input in this area is huge, and it must be included in the cost of making optical modules, which keeps the price of optical modules at a high level. Of course, compared with servers and network equipment, the profit of optical modules is even higher. Unlike server, network, storage and other market segments where competition is already relatively sufficient, competition in the optical module market is uneven, and several foreign optical module manufacturers occupy With the status of mainstream suppliers, several domestic optical module manufacturers can also share a lot of markets. Generally speaking, optical module manufacturers have had much better lives in recent years. Especially with the increasing demand for 40G/100G optical modules in data centers, the market has brought enough opportunities for optical module manufacturers, and the profits of these high-speed modules are relatively high.
It is not easy to provide optical modules with reliable quality and meeting the requirements of data center use. In recent years, other aspects of data center technologies have been continuously improved, and the requirements for optical modules have also become higher and higher. The first is to have a high speed. At present, the interface of the server is changing from 1G to 10G, and the standards for aggregation switches from 10G to 40G/100G, 25G and 400G are also being formulated. Once a standard is formed, the design and development of specific optical modules will also begin. , It will be possible to further improve the network bandwidth capacity of the data center. The second is to be green and environmentally friendly, with low power consumption. The power consumption of the data center is very large, and the power consumption of calculating the heat is a great waste. If the working power consumption of a 10G optical module is 3W, then a 480,000M switch board card will only reach the power consumption of the optical module. 144W, if a network device with 16 boards is inserted, it will cost 2300W, which is equivalent to lighting 23 100W bulbs at the same time, which consumes a lot of power. The third is high density and space saving. Although the speed of the optical module is getting higher and higher, it can be designed to be smaller and smaller. The previous GBIC optical module has only a gigabit speed, which is larger than the current 10G. The previous 100G optical module port was nearly 10CM long, but now there is no difference in size between 100G optical module and 10G. 48 100G port density can be done on a board card. The fourth is low cost. The high price of 100G optical modules has also restrained some market demand to a certain extent. Many data centers are discouraged by the high prices of 100G optical modules. Because not only the optical module must be considered, but also the supporting equipment needs to be reinvested, which is not a small expense in combination. If 100G optical modules can be greatly reduced in cost, they will soon become popular in data centers. Currently, data centers that can deploy 100G interconnection are rare. Therefore, it is not an easy task to provide high-quality optical modules. Continuous research is needed to improve the production level of optical modules.
Although the optical module is small, its role in the data center cannot be ignored, especially in today's data center where the bandwidth requirements are getting higher and higher, the optical module has even restricted the development of the data center to a certain extent, so I hope there will be more and more More companies join the optical module market to promote the faster development of the optical module market. You can use the phrase "small size has a big role" to describe the role of optical modules in data centers, which is not an exaggeration at all.
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