Cisco’s Acacia, Microchip team on 400G interoperability testing

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An Acacia executive said a ramp in 400G rollouts “started with early adopters and we expect more network operators will start deployments this year and throughout 2022.”(Cisco)

Cisco’s Acacia unit and semiconductor company Microchip Technology sought to accelerate adoption of 400G pluggable optics, working together to validate the interoperability of their respective transport components.

Kevin So, associate director of product line management and marketing at Microchip, told Fierce the pair have a history of collaboration that goes back to work on 100G. He said their latest effort is meant to proactively eliminate elements of risk operators face as they begin to upgrade to the latest 400G technology.

While most solutions are based on industry standards, he argued that’s not always a guarantee that components from different companies will work well together.

“I’ve seen in our industry often standards are written, people think things are going to work and then you show up at a carrier lab and that’s when you discover problems,” So said. “Standards still do not necessarily always ensure everything is interoperable ready to go, and it can be a barrier for ultimately our customers and service providers in deploying it.”

The companies said they successfully validated interoperability between their respective components for 400G, ZR and OpenZR+ configurations in converged packet and OTN optical platforms, compact modular optical systems and data center routing and switching platforms.

So said Microchip’s work with Acacia started in the pre-silicon stage, ensuring the interfaces and designs they were pursuing were compatible. Once the silicon in question became available, the pair “tested these components together as a system to make sure it's robust enough.”

Tom Williams, director of marketing for Acacia, told Fierce “This interop testing demonstrates that leading vendors are working together to streamline the integration process. There wasn’t any expectation of issues, but it builds confidence to know that the vendors have already done this work directly.”

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During Cisco’s fiscal Q4 earnings call in August, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins highlighted uptake of 400G solutions, noting orders for 400G ports were up 668% in the quarter.

Williams said a ramp in rollouts “started with early adopters and we expect more network operators will start deployments this year and throughout 2022.”