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Broadcom delivers 51.2T co-packaged optics Ethernet switch

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The company says the switch is the industry’s first, and allows 70 percent lower power consumption of the optical interconnect compared with pluggable transceivers

Broadcom has announced that it has delivered Bailly, a 51.2T co-packaged optics (CPO) Ethernet switch, which it says is the industry’s first, to its customers. The product integrates eight silicon photonics-based 6.4-T optical engines with Broadcom’s StrataXGS Tomahawk 5 switch chip. The company says that Bailly enables the optical interconnect to operate at 70 percent lower power consumption and delivers an 8x improvement in silicon area efficiency as compared to pluggable transceiver solutions.

The optical interconnect is critical for both front-end and back-end networks in large-scale generative AI clusters. Today, pluggable optical transceivers consume approximately 50 percent of system power and constitute more than 50 percent of the cost of a traditional switch system. The growing bandwidth requirement for the newer generation of GPUs, coupled with the ever-increasing sizes of AI clusters, requires disruptively power-efficient and cost-efficient optical interconnects that extend beyond discrete solutions. According to Broadcom, its CPO and silicon photonics technology platform, with its high degree of integration, provides the lowest latency, highest bandwidth density, lowest power, and lowest cost solution to meet this need and can help build large-scale, power-efficient AI clusters.

Bailly integrates hundreds of optical components and hundreds of millions of transistors in a single optical engine. Broadcom says that the high degree of integration enables the placement of the optical engines on a common substrate with complex logic ASICs minimising the need for signal conditioning circuitry, allowing the optical interconnect to operate at 70 percent lower power consumption as compared to pluggable transceivers. The company adds that Bailly’s high-volume production is enabled by its innovative manufacturing approach that utilises proven CMOS foundry processes, advanced packaging technologies and a highly automated high-density, edge-coupled fibre attach capability.

Broadcom is co-designing platforms with cloud service providers (CSPs) and system integrators to accelerate adoption of CPO platforms. The company will showcase the Bailly 51.2T CPO system at the OFC 2024 exhibition.

“As AI clusters demand higher bandwidth density, lower power consumption and lower latency, we are pleased to announce delivery of the industry’s first 51.2-T CPO switch,” said Near Margalit, vice president and general manager of the Optical Systems Division at Broadcom. “Bailly will enable hyperscalers to deploy lower-power, cost-efficient, large-scale AI and compute clusters. Broadcom’s technology leadership and manufacturing innovations help Bailly deliver 70 percent better power efficiency and ensure an optical I/O roadmap that can walk in tandem with the future bandwidth and power needs of AI infrastructure.”

Sameh Boujelbene, vice president at Dell’Oro Group, added: “Pluggable optics are expected to account for an increasingly significant portion of power consumption at a system level, exceeding 50 percent of the switch system power at 51.2T and beyond. This issue will be further exacerbated as cloud service providers build their next-generation AI networks and continue to push for higher speeds. Substantial investments in AI infrastructure are accelerating the development of innovative optical connectivity solutions such as Broadcom's Bailly co-packaged optics platform, aiming to meet the demands of AI clusters while solving cost and power consumption hurdles.”

Richard Li, general manager of H3C’s switch product line, commented on the company’s partnership with Broadcom: “System design has become more challenging with each increase in SerDes speed, but only recently have we had to re-design our systems and optics to overcome the physical limitations of copper. Our partnership with Broadcom to design systems with highly integrated co-packaged optics is a huge step forward to overcoming the design limitations of pluggable transceivers in high density systems.”

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