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Optical Interconnect Test

Optical Interconnects – when the cable limits your speed

The ever increasing data rate of ASIC I/O pins and computer interfaces drives existing interconnects and electrical cable technologies to the limits. The long time to market for USB 3.0 is one example of the limits of electrical interconnect technologies at today's data rates.

When you have to include optical technologies in your digital designs, Agilent helps you to focus where it counts. Our 25 years expertise in photonic measurement will allow you to spend your time where it makes a difference for your project: get your digital designs to market.

Optical interconnect technologies are about to enter mainstream markets as the optical performance advantages become more and more relevant, while the cost advantages of electrical interconnects are diminishing at high data rates.

Although optical technologies are used extensively in data centers and telecommunications, the expansion of the application spaces gives some new challenges:

  • Component prices for mainstream computer applications see even higher pressure compared to the telecommunications industry. This needs to be reflected in the test strategy.
  • Volumes will be a factor of 100 to 10000 higher than typical volumes for communication and data center applications. Again, this needs to be reflected and addressed with an appropriate test strategy and test processes.

Despite cost of test as one of the biggest drivers, there is the conflicting need to have flexible test solutions. Flexibility is important because typically manufacturers want to use similar test approaches along the life cycle from R&D to design verification and manufacturing. As well, there is a large variety of industry and de-facto standards for optical transmitters (like Fiber Channel, Optical Ethernet, InfiniBand) plus some proprietary implementations (e.g. Light Peak). Ideally, a test solution would cover more than one standard to reduce complexity in procurement, maintenance and test software engineering.