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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Are Your Selfies Really Cool? Lucas Benson

Everywhere you go, it seems like the selfie has transitioned from a millennial fad, to a widespread phenomenon, where a selfie stick is a common sight.

In all seriousness, the demand for data continues to grow exponentially, whether it be for the storage of selfies or company sales figures, hosting software for analytics, or just sending emails. The Internet of Things (IoT) will see more than 20 billion connected devices by the 2020, according to a Gartner study. And Cisco’s Visual Networking Index for 2016 projects that monthly global mobile data traffic will be 30.6 exabytes by 2020, increasing eight times between 2015 and 2020. These figures are mind blowing.

For the datacenter and backhaul network providers, this is a really great problem to have as it drives them to continue rapid expansion and upgrades to their infrastructure. What’s happening behind the scenes is pretty revolutionary as some datacenters try to find new ways to support their customer base at a lower capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expense (OPEX) while continuously expanding capacity. As the demand for data continues to grow, datacenter architects are challenged with decreasing the ratio of the datacenter floor space per Gigabyte. This means that instead of just building another datacenter to handle these higher data demands, the racks within the existing datacenter need to handle much higher density switch, server and storage gear. Since all of this new equipment is expected to share rack power resources, therein lies the limiting factor: Power. According to Perspectives, 31 percent of datacenter spend is on power and cooling—the power needed to power the system, and the power needed to cool the system.

Why are datacenters so concerned about cooling? One rule of thumb the optical industry lives (and dies) by is that for every 5°C increase in vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL, the thing that drives the data) temperature, the lifecycle of the transceiver or active optical cable (AOC) is reduced by 50 percent. Imagine if every time you drive your car over the speed limit, it’s useful life is reduced by 50 percent! The obsession to innovate methods of cooling goes pretty far. For example, Microsoft did a study where containers were submersed in the ocean to reduce the power needed to keep their components cool.

As a result of the limited power and drive for higher density, Datacenter Interconnect (DCI) manufacturers are being asked to innovate to address these cooling needs, specifically in the optical and silicon market, but also in the passive component supply base. Customers are changing architectures when needed, for example: Getting rid of PCB backplanes and going to cabled backplanes, such as the STRADA Whisper Connectors. But there are solutions to help ease the demands that seem to be coming from every angle. High Speed Pluggable IO connectors and cages, which are in essence sockets for optical and copper plugs, have seen significant innovation over the past two years with the release of products like microQSFP and thermally enhanced zSFP+ and zQSFP+ cages. These products increase airflow and heat dissipation to provide better optical and system cooling and, in turn, help lower overall power costs needed to cool systems while delivering higher density. In essence these products are enabling longer life cycles for optical transceivers and AOCs, easing the need for high powered system fans, and in the end—helping you to feel comfortable buying your next selfie stick.

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Lucas BensonLucas Benson is the Global Product Manager of next generation high speed networking interconnects for TE Connectivity’s (TE) Data and Devices business unit. He is responsible for strategically selecting and driving innovation of TE’s next generation technologies to support increasing data speeds and other demands in the datacenter and networking markets. He has 7 years of experience in finance, product management and business development and holds an MBA from Pennsylvania State University.

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