Steffen Koehler, Vice President of MarketingAs the amount of computing horsepower in technological markets is proliferating by the day, so is the need for processing performance, power optimization, and architectural innovations. The High-Performance Computing (HPC) ecosystem is no different. Meeting such needs in an HPC environment pivots on an integral aspect— connectivity. “Connectivity is an essential element that drives the HPC industry,” begins Steffen Koehler, Vice President of Marketing, Finisar Corporation—an optical connectivity company. Because the focus of much of the optics industry is shifting to cloud data centers, some organizations lack the understanding to draw a distinction between the connectivity needs of HPC and the cloud data center industry. “What does the HPC industry need that it’s not already getting from riding the coat-tails of the cloud data center industry?” asks Koehler.
According to him, the answer to this lies with Finisar. The leading optical transceiver company in the world, Finisar provides fiber optic interconnects for HPC using technologies that value HPC, rather than solely focusing on the data center industry. “The HPC industry has historically relied on 4-Channel active optical cables (AOC). However, this optics technology is not purchased in the data center industry in the same time frame or volume,” underscores Koehler. Having recognized this trend in the HPC ecosystem, the company has developed a wide range of AOC solutions —including Finisar’s Quadwire® product line that ranges in data rates from 40G to 400G—to accelerate storage, data, and HPC connectivity.
Besides reducing costs, Finisar also caters to the low latency and low power consumption needs of the HPC ecosystem. To do so, the company empowers its customers with multimode optics. “While large data centers are migrating toward single-mode optics, Finisar also remembers the needs of HPC. The availability of both single-and multimode optics allows end users to separately optimize high bandwidth connections for longer and shorter distances. And for those shorter distances utilized in HPC, Finisar’s multimode optics include a full suite of AOCs, along with pluggable transceivers and embedded optical engines. The uniqueness of the company is also evident in the fact that it invests heavily in co-packaged optics in the multimode, VCSEL-based regime, not just in single mode.
While large data centers are migrating toward single-mode optics, Finisar also remembers the needs of HPC
These developments ensure that system interconnects consume the lowest power and have the highest density optical interface for distances relevant to HPC.
Finisar leverages three critical optical technologies to develop its proprietary solutions: VCSEL-based shortwave, Edge Emitting longwave, and Silicon Photonics longwave. While most HPC provider companies have only one or two of those technologies in their solutions, Finisar can choose among these three technologies to create the right tool for the right job.
Finisar’s business approach has allowed the company to manage in-house supplies and resources. This allows Finisar to take control of their assembly, testing, and supply without relying heavily on external contract manufacturing. With over 30 years in the industry, Finisar has designed a methodology to deliver market-leading solutions for a broad spectrum of customers.
To highlight the benefits that Finisar offers, Koehler details how the company carried out custom development for various customers that led to the creation of its 25G Board-Mounted Optical Assembly (BOA), wherein each channel runs at 25 Gb/s. This compact, high-bandwidth optical engine has been designed for data storage and high-performance computing connectivity. “Tailored specifically for the HPC industry, the 25G BOA Optical Engine will serve as our springboard for future co-packaged high density and non-pluggable solutions,” mentions Koehler.
The team at Finisar is focusing on the evolution of optical engines in conjunction with several co-packaging solutions, as well as traditional transceivers and AOCs. Finisar is associating with partners, customers, and research agencies to enable breakthroughs in areas like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced HPC capabilities.