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MXC Optical Connector and ClearCurve* LX Fiber

MXC* Optical Connector Technology is Becoming Available

In September of 2013 Intel and Corning announced  a new Optical Connector technology called MXC*.  On March 11th, 2014 US Conec announced that it would start production shipments of MXC components to the industry in Q2 2014.  Corning also announced that it would start shipping MXC cable assemblies in Q3 2014.  Additionally Molex and TE Connectivity announced they would develop MXC based cables.

 

With breakthrough Intel® Silicon Photonics Technology technology delivers unprecedented performance and energy efficiency within the data center. Combined with MXC cabling solutions one can send up to 1.6 terabits per second of data at distances of up to 300 meters. Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created, with 90 percent of the world’s data created in the last two years alone. To support this tremendous surge in traffic, next generation data centers will require full optical connectivity – not just in the backbone and cross connects deployed in today’s data centers – but all the way to server ports which typically use slower copper for downlinks.

 

Microsoft had the following to say about MXC cables:

 “Microsoft is pleased to join the MXC Adopters Forum and looks forward to evaluating MXC based products“ said Kushagra Vaid, General Manager of Cloud Server Engineering at Microsoft.  “We believe that MXC along with Intel® Silicon Photonics will be instrumental in shaping next generation high performance data center architectures. We look forward to working with Intel and open standards bodies like OCP to accelerate information sharing and industry adoption”.

 

Announcements:

  • Corning and Intel have worked together to develop MXC*, the connector for the 21st century data center.  This new connector can support up to 64 fibers. At a speed of 25G it can carry 1.6 Tbps of data. It was also announced that US Conec will be making the connector components.
  • MXC cable assemblies have been sampled by Corning to customers and will be in production in Q3 2014.
  • Corning has announced a schedule and established pricing for the MXC cable assemblies and is communicating this to its customers upon request.
  • US Conec, which is an equity venture of Corning, Fujikura, and NTT-AL, announced that it will sell MXC connector parts (e.g., ferrule, springs, and plastic parts) to Corning and other connector companies. US Conec also announced that it has established a MXC certification program and MXC logo.
  • Both Tyco Electronics and Molex have announced they will build and sell MXC-based cable assemblies.
  • Intel and US Conec announced that they have created an adopter forum. The adopter’s forum is a meeting of current and future MXC adopters and was established to educate and coordinate activities of the MXC adopters.

 

The Fiber

  • Corning’s ClearCurve* LX Multimode Fiber transmits 1310 nm (the wavelength used by Intel® Silicon Photonics Modules) with low optical loss to enable distances of up to 300 meters at 25 Gbps, three times longer than current technologies
  • 1310 nm is the wavelength (color) of light that is optimized to support Intel®  Silicon Photonics Technologies
  • As a bend-insensitive fiber, ClearCurve LX fiber has almost 1/10 the bend radius of traditional fibers
  • The unique fiber design enables reliable operation with the sharp bends typically found inside and around server racks
  • The fiber also will be available for sale to other cabling manufacturers

 

The Connector:

  • The MXC connector will support up to 64 fibers, each operating at 25 Gbps.
  • The total aggregate bandwidth of the 64-fiber version is 1.6 terabits of data per second (1,600 gigabits per second) or (1,600,000,000,000 bits per second).
  • The MXC connector uses a lensed ferrule to carry light from one connector to the other, rather than physical fiber contact of the end faces as with traditional connector technology.
  • The fiber lenses have a beam expander that increases the diameter of the light beam by four times. This mitigates dust contamination at the connection point, a significant cause of connector failure in the data center.
  • The MXC connector has fewer parts and the connector’s assembly requires fewer processing steps, all of which reduces the connector’s total manufacturing cost.

 

Did You Know:

  • The first laser was invented by Ted Maiman in 1960. Some of his skeptical colleagues stated that “this was a solution in search of a problem.” He described his odyssey in his book: “The Laser Odyssey.”
  • Optical fiber was invented by three Corning researchers in 1970. The breakthrough occurred when the researchers discovered doping silica glass fibers with titanium-produced lower loss fibers.
  • The first commercial installation of an optical fiber was under a street in Chicago, Illinois in 1977. The total length of the cable was 1.5 miles.
  • If you could run at 1.6 terabits per second, you could download a two hour HD movie from iTunes (4 GB) in less than one second.
  • Intel has been driving innovations to “siliconize” photonics for +10 years, including many firsts: the first 1 and 10 Gbps silicon modulator, the first hybrid silicon laser, and the first Silicon Avalanche Photo-detector.
  • Some multifiber connectors used in data centers today have 25 to 30 parts. The MXC connector plug has only eight parts, reducing manufacturing complexity and cost.
  • The popularity of 4+ billion smartphones, hundreds of millions of tablets and PCs, and 30 billion devices connected to the Internet has caused a tremendous surge in data traffic in and out of the data center in only the last few years.
  • Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (1 followed by 18 zeros) are created, with 90 percent of the world’s data created in the last two years alone.
More Information

MXC* Technology Will Light Up 21st Century Data Centers

Intel Fellow Dr. Mario Paniccia, General Manager of Intel's Silicon Photonics Solutions Group, discusses the significance of MXC* Technology.

Read the blog >

MXC* Adopters Meeting

See the slides presented at the first MXC Adopters meeting on March 11, 2014.

View the presentation >