Molex and Cisco help to lead MSA to develop double-density QSFP interfaces

Consortium to define technologies and protocols to support up to 400 Gbps pluggable modules


Molex and Cisco have announced their participation in a multi-supplier agreement (MSA) to create high-speed, double-density quad small form factor pluggable (QSFP-DD), a new high-speed interface. Thirteen industry leaders have joined the MSA to collaborate in developing this new high-speed interface.


Under the MSA, participating companies are developing new technology for the double-density, quad small form pluggable interface (QSFP-DD) to enable up to 10X range of the bandwidth to be supported on the same port. The goal is ensuring mechanical, electrical, thermal and signal-integrity interoperability for module components produced by different manufacturers. Members of the MSA are developing operating parameters, signal transmission speed goals, and protocols for QSFP-DD.


The new QSFP-DD interface expands on widely adopted QSFP enabling systems to support backwards compatibility to existing 40 GbE and 100 GbE QSFP interfaces as well as a clear path to future 2×100 GbE and 400 GbE interfaces. By maintaining the same port density per rack unit, customers can speed up networks without redesigning the architecture.


“With a clear trend towards hyper-converged fabrics, customers need an aligned switch silicon and optics roadmap,” said Luca Cafiero, senior vice president and general manager at Cisco. “Global IP traffic is expected to reach 1.4 zettabytes next year, reflecting a CAGR from 2012 to 2017 of 23 per cent. All players involved in network architecture will have to step up their game to meet this demand, and the MSA for QSFP DD is a big step in that direction. We are confident that, with industry leaders like Molex, we can help to lead the development of high-speed technology that will be broadly used throughout the industry.”


The latest Cisco Cloud Scale ASIC technology enables cost effective 36 port 100 GbE in a single chip design. Assuming an 18 months silicon innovation cycle these bandwidth capabilities will double and quadruple in the next two to three years. Having a QSFP-DD with a roadmap towards 2x100G and 400G interfaces will allow for close alignment of switch ASIC and optics capability.


“The need for high-speed solutions is unmistakable,” said Scott Sommers, group product manager, Molex. “This MSA is a critical part of meeting that need, and Molex will contribute its leadership in complete I/O solutions — including connectors, copper cable and fibre optics. We are delighted to be working with Cisco and other partners to meet the challenge of developing a double-density interface that meets or exceeds industry expectations.”

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