100G Single-Mode Modules for Short Distance Transmission

As bandwidth demand continues to grow, network service providers are looking at 100G Ethernet network to accommodate the constant traffic surge. This new technology translates into greater speeds and a possible network infrastructure upgrade to compensate for various challenges that do not apply to slower networks, such as 10G, or 40G. 100G Ethernet provides high-speed connectivity while protecting current network infrastructures that requires broad expertise and wide-range testing to qualify the state of the fiber, perform fiber characterization and assess the integrity of data transmission over long-haul and ultra-long-haul networks. In response to 100 Gigabit Ethernet, many famous telecommunication companies, like Cisco, have delivered industry-leading, standards-compliant, 100G pluggable transceiver modules, such as single-mode QSFP-100G-LR4 for the transmission distance up to 10 km and multimode QSFP-100G-SR4 for the transmission up to 100 m. How about single-mode 100G modules for the transmission distance less than 2 km? Today, we’re going to introduce two 100G interfaces over single-mode fiber for short distance transmission: 100GBase CWDM4 and 100GBase PSM4.

The Development History of 100GBase CWDM4 and 100GBase PSM4

The IEEE standardized a cost-effective 100m solution known as “SR4”. Beyond 100m, there is only the “LR4” standard, which is targeted to achieve 10km. Customers, particularly hyperscale data centers are looking for solutions up to 2 km. To response, in 2014, a new industry group CWDM4(coarse wavelength division multiplexed 4x25G multi-source agreement) MSA which is consisted of Avago Technologies, Finisar Corp, JDSU, Oclaro, and Sumitomo Electric, announced the formation of an industry consortisum dedicated to defining specifications and promoting adoption of interoperable 2km 100 interfaces over duplex single-mode fiber, which smooths the process of getting to 100Gb Ethernet.

Like the development history of 100GBase-CWDM4, in order to fill the requirement of low-cost 100G connections at reaches of 500 m in applications that fall in between the IEEE standardized multi-wavelength 10-km 100GBase-LR4 single-mode approach and its multimode-fiber based 100GBase-SR10 short reach specification, six technology vendors aim to promote the creation and adoption of parallel single-mode 4-lane (PSM4) approach to 100G in the data center.

Main Features of 100GBase-CWDM4 and 100GBase-PSM4

100GBase-CWDM4: 100GBase CWDM4 module comply with the requirement of CWDM4 MSA. It is a 100G optical module using CWDM (coarse wavelength division multiplexing) technology with 4 lanes of 25Gbps optically multiplexed onto demultiplexed from a standard duplex G.652 single-mode LC or SC fiber for the link length from 2 meters to at least 2 kilometers. Transceiver modules compliant to CWDM4 MSA specification use a color code to indicate the application. The color code can be on a module bail latch, pull lab, or other visible feature of the module when installed in a system The image below shows the working principle of 100GBase-CWDM4.

100GBase CWDM4 module

100GBase-PSM4: 100GBase-PSM4 is a parallel module which provides increased port density, offering four independent transmit and receive channels, and each channel operates at 25Gbps, resulting in an aggregate data rate of 100Gbps for optical communication applications. It can support the link length up to 500 m over single-mode MPO or MTP fiber. The working principle of 100GBase-PSM4 is shown below.

100GBase-PSM4 module

Which One Is More Cost Effective?

From an optical transceiver module structure viewpoint, PSM4 can be more cost effective, this comes in two reasons: One is that it uses a single uncooled CW laser which splits its output power into four integrated silicon modulators, the other is that its array-fiber coupling to an MTP connectors is relatively simple.

However, from an infrastructure viewpoint, PSM4 would be more expensive when the link distance is long, mainly due to the fact that PSM4 uses 8 optical single-mode fibers, while CWDM4 uses only 2 optical single-mode fibers.

When take these two factors into considerations, a total cost comparison can be qualitatively shown in the figure below. As can be seen in the figure, PSM4 starts with a lower cost due to its lower transceiver cost, but as the link distance increases, its total cost climbs up very fast due to the fact that it uses 8 optical fibers. Besides, if deploying PSM4 modules, the entire optical fiber infrastructure within a data center, including patch panels, has to be changed to accommodate MTP connectors and regular single-mode fiber cables. In addition, cleaning MTP connector is not a straightforward task.

CWDM4 vs. PSM4


With the requirement for longer distances and higher data transmission speed increases, 100GBase-CWDM4 and 100GBase PSM4 which provide lower-cost, lower power option for what can be referred to as medium-reach distances that is future-proof for the next generations of data transmission speeds. FS.COM offers compatible 100GBase-CWDM4 and 100GBase-PSM4 for many brands at affordable price. You can choose the right one according to your need.

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Optical Communication

Work as an English editor at FS.COM, a professional supplier and manufacturer of fiber cables.

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