Low-cost multi-fiber optical connector developed

Feb 03, 2014
Figure 1: Optical connector with simplified design (left: geometry; center: exterior; right: tip surface of optical fiber)

Fujitsu Laboratories and Furukawa Electric today announced that they have collaborated to develop a new multi-fiber optical connector that enjoins and aligns multiple optical fibers for optical interconnects.

The conventional method of connecting optical fibers requires high-precision polishing that aligns the tips of the fibers, making the cost of this process considerable. Fujitsu Laboratories and Furukawa Electric have developed a connector that can accommodate different lengths of with a spring mechanism that obviates the need for this polishing process, slashing by more than half the cost required to connect optical fibers.

This new jointly developed connector achieves performance on par with conventional connectors while simplifying the task of installing high-capacity optical interconnects in a server. It is anticipated that this technology will increase data transmission speed between boards, increasing overall server performance.

This technology is being presented in detail at SPIE Photonics West 2014, from February 1, 2014, in San Francisco.

Background

In recent years, the volume of data transmission inside servers has grown in line with greater server processing performance. Today, high-speed data speeds of 25Gbps or greater are required for transmissions between the CPUs, and CPUs and memory. Conventional electrical wiring suffers signal degradation due to attenuation at high speeds, making high-speed transmission between server boards difficult even over short distances. Optical fiber, which suffers little signal degradation, has therefore led to much attention being focused on optical interconnects.

Using optical interconnects for communications between server boards requires numerous multi-fiber connectors, each of which connects and aligns multiple optical fibers to allow for parallel signal transfers. The large volume required, however, leads to the problem of high costs when deploying optical interconnects inside servers.

Issues

With existing multi-fiber connectors, the fibers need to be fixed into the connector and then have their fiber-end faces precisely polished so that their tips align flat for low-loss connections. However, as the polishing process needs to be performed for each connector, the overall cost is high. The problem has been the lack of having a simple optical connector that offers the benefits of low signal loss without requiring costly polishing.

About the Technology

Fujitsu Laboratories' design technology and Furukawa Electric's manufacturing technology both contributed to the development of a multi-fiber optical connector that can easily be used inside servers.

Key technologies underlying the new connector design are as follows.

A spring mechanism for optical connectors that slightly deforms when connecting optical fibers (Figures 1, 2). This allows for deforming in the optical connector itself to introduce minute bends into the optical fibers as a way to accommodate for differences in their lengths, so that their tips align.

Laser-processing the tips of the optical fibers results in surfaces equivalent to those achieved through polishing (Figure 1), so that optical fibers can align flush without gaps.

The combination of these technologies obviates the need for polishing and results in optical-fiber connections with signal loss levels on par with existing multi-fiber connectors (0.2 dB or less).

Figure 2: How fibers connect in the optical connector with simplified design

Results

The newly developed optical connector obviates the need for costly polishing, halving the cost while achieving performance on par with existing technology. Fujitsu Laboratories and Furukawa Electric jointly developed this optical connector for use on boards, and with an optical connector housing that accommodates four optical connectors in a compact space, this design allows for as many as 96 optical fibers to be connected (Figure 3).

Figure 3: How the optical connector with simplified design mounts to a board with housing

This technology will enable the cost of installing between boards inside servers to be lowers, and increase overall server performance in the future.

Future Plans

Fujitsu Laboratories and Furukawa Electric are continuing development with the goal of applications in servers around 2016. This technology need not be limited to internal server communications; it also has additional potential uses for connecting optical fibers between rack-mounted devices.

Explore further: Intel developer event to discuss 1.6 Tbit/s MXC interconnect breakthrough

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Future solar cells may be made of wood

Jan 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —A new kind of paper that is made of wood fibers yet is 96% transparent could be a revolutionary material for next-generation solar cells. Coming from plants, the paper is inexpensive and more ...

Recommended for you

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

Apr 17, 2014

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

Apr 16, 2014

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

Apr 16, 2014

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

Apr 15, 2014

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...