Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) has announced initial deployment plans for its much-discussed CPAK 100-Gbps pluggable transceiver, based on the nLight silicon photonics technology it gained when it acquired Lightwire. The optical transceiver, designed as a smaller, lower-cost alternative to CFP transceivers, will find its first use on Cisco ONS 15454 MSTP 100G coherent transponders.
The Cisco ONS 15454 MSTP will sport 100Gbase-LR4, -SR10, and -ER4 CPAK pluggables as client side interfaces. The company also plans to integrate the CMOS-enabled CPAK on routing and switching line cards, Bill Gartner, vice president and general manager of Cisco's High End Routing and Optical business unit, told attendees at the Optical Society of America’s Executive Forum on March 18. He said the company also will explore using the nLight technology to enable other form factors.
Responding to a question from the audience regarding the advantages of the CPAK versus the CFP2 form factor modules that should become available soon, Gartner says that Cisco’s original design goal was something better than the CFP devices that originally were the focus of transceiver vendors’ development efforts. If one takes into account the varying roadmaps different module suppliers are following as they develop CFP2 devices, Gartner asserted that the CPAK still offers significant cost, power, and footprint advantage over what could be considered the marketplace’s “average” offering.
"CPAK represents a significant advancement in optical networking, providing dramatic space and power efficiencies," said Eve Griliches, vice president, ACG Research, via a Cisco press release. "The timing for this solution could not be more ideal, as network traffic volumes continue to escalate, with no end in sight. If the telecommunications industry is to advance and enable a new generation of services, it will need a new generation of optics, and the Cisco CPAK represents one of the early options in this area."
One item still on Cisco’s agenda is establishing a way to manufacture modules such as the CPAK in sufficient volumes to meet its needs. Gartner said that partnering with some of its existing module vendors is one option under consideration.