Get Ready for 16-fiber Small Form Factor Connectors!

Get Ready for 16-fiber Small Form Factor Connectors!

Posted by Troy Snobecy on Apr 28th 2022

As we discussed in a previous blog , multi-fiber MPO connectors have become the connector of choice for high-speed parallel optics applications that transmit and receive over multiple fibers. These include 8-fiber and 16-fiber applications like 100GBASE-SR4 that transmits and receives at 25 Gb/s per lane, 200GBASE-SR4 that transmits and receives at 50 Gb/s per lane, and 400GBASE-SR8 and 400GBASE-SR4 that transmit and receive at 50 and 100 Gb/s per lane, respectively.

Advanced PAM4 100 Gb/s signaling technology also now opens the door for 800 Gigabit applications that are under development by the IEEE 802.3 Beyond 400 Gig Ethernet Study Group. The group has already identified objectives that build on existing 400GBASE-SR4 logic to support 800 Gig over eight lanes. For parallel optics applications like 800GBASE-SR8 and 800GBASE-DR8, that will mean 16 fibers and new 8-lane or dual 4-lane transceivers.

At the same time that applications are under development, industry connectivity manufacturers have been taking steps to address the density that comes with high-speed parallel optics and the overall ever-increasing amount of fiber in the data center. Last year, our blog on new high-density small form factor duplex connectors introduced Senko’s SN® and US Conec’s MDC™ duplex connectors that vertically space fibers in a connector house that is less than half the size of a traditional LC duplex connector. Available with our patch cords and ultra high-density  HD8² system cassettes, SN and MDC connectors offer the benefit of supporting four duplex connections in a single 4-lane transceiver, making them well suited for 400 Gig break-out applications like 4 X 100 Gig that optimize port utilization in hyperscale, cloud, and large enterprise data centers.

With 800 Gig on the horizon and ongoing developments to support future 1.6 and 3.2 Terabit applications, Senko and US Conec are once again responding to the need for high-density small form-factor connectors. Let’s take a look a look.

51.2 Terabit Switch ASICNew 16-fiber Small Form Factors

Senko’s new SN-MT Mini Connector is available in a low-loss, 16-fiber version that has 2.7 times the density of a traditional 16-fiber MPO. Based on the same vertically-spaced design, the SN-MT carries the same footprint as the SN duplex connector. Similar in size to the SN-MT, US Conec has also launched it’s 16-fiber small form factor connector – the MMC – which has the same footprint as their MDC duplex connector.

With the same size as the SN and MDC connectors, four SN-MT or MMC connectors fit into a QSFP footprint, and they are now considered the industry’s highest density connectors. Both the SN-MT and MMC connectors are single-row multi-fiber connectors and feature push-pull boot technology, which is imperative for plug-in and removal of connectors in ultra high-density environments. They come in APC multimode and singlemode versions for improved reflectance in high-speed applications, and both manufacturers are introducing adapters and board-mount connectors.

51.2 Terabit Switch ASICWhere Will They be Used?

New 16-fiber small-form factor SN-MT and MMC connectors will be ideal for supporting ultra-high-density 16-fiber, 8-lane 400 and 800 Gig applications. Their extremely small size will enable superior switch and patch panel density for these applications. If PAM4 signaling schemes advance to support a 200 Gb/s lane rate, a single SN-MT or MMC connector will ultimately support 1.6 Terabit.

SN-MT and MMC connectors are also ideal for supporting future pluggable transceivers and co-packaged optics that are being developed to support 1.6 and 3.2 Terabit applications. In fact, these connectors are already being put to the test in co-packaged optics that bring fiber closer to the chip with on-board optics for significantly reduced power consumption. SN-MT and MMC connectors can enable a pluggable interface at the chip that can then be carried through the entire network from the front of the switch to the patch panels. For example, a future 51.2 Terabit switch with sixteen (16) 3.2 Terabit co-packaged modules based on a 16-fiber 800GBASE-DR8 parallel optics application would require 4 SN-MT or MMC connectors per module for a total of 1024 fibers – something that would not be possible in this cramped space with larger traditional MPO-16 connectors.

While these new small-form factor 16-fiber connectors are not yet readily available, the good news is that CablesPlus stays on top of connectivity developments in the industry – so just as we do with the Senko CS and the US Conec MDC, you can rest assured that we’ll be supporting these advanced connectors. And since our HD8² High-Density Fiber Optic Patching System can already support 216 SN or MDC duplex connectors (432 fibers) in a 1U patch panel using our innovative square cassette design, we are ready to support 216 SN-MT and MDC ports for a total of 3,456 fibers in just 1U!  Want to know more? Contact us at sales@cablesplususa.com or 866-678-5852 to discuss your upgrade.