Defining laser standards for AI, HPC and high-density optics                                        

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was the CW-WDM MSA formed?

IEEE and MSA standards specify single and four wavelengths for today’s datacom optics. Emerging Silicon Photonics (SiPh) based optics are expected to move to 8, 16, and 32 wavelengths, to support high data rate advanced optical communication and computing applications. These higher wavelength counts are a crucial part of the emerging ecosystem and will enable improvements in performance, efficiency, cost, and bandwidth scaling.

What is the goal of the CW-WDM MSA?

The goal of the MSA is to generate a set of specifications for optical power sources. Once the standard is adopted broadly, vendors can leverage a robust supply chain and suppliers have a unified, large market to sell into.

Where can I find the specification?

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How is the CW-WDM MSA different from previous standards?

The CW-WDM MSA is different from optical communication standards in that it solely focuses on defining the optical source specifications instead of the full communication link. While it has a number of end use cases, it is not targeted at any single application. Such an approach allows developers to fully optimize links without interoperability constraints, while simultaneously creating a large business opportunity for optical source suppliers.

Is there any overlap between the CW-WDM MSA and previous ethernet standards?

The MSA will leverage optical specifications in previous standards, including IEEE 100GBASE-LR4 and ITU-T DWDM G.694.1, to minimize the development effort required by suppliers and reduce product time-to-market.

What is the difference between a Promoter Member and an Observer Member?   

Promoter Members develop the specifications, contribute and license IP, vote on the Standard, and actively promote the MSA.  Observer Members are informed of the specification development details on an ongoing basis, and can contribute to the specifications through Promoter Members.

A Word From Our Chair

” Laser Sources have been the critical building block of fiber optic communications. Standardizing their specifications has been key to the success of Telecom and Datacom optics. ITU-T established complete baselines for DWDM and CWDM grids, with G.694.1 and G.694.2 application codes, respectively. IEEE then leveraged these codes to define subsets for high volume datacenter applications. In particular LWDM was derived from G.694.1 and first used for 100GBASE-LR4. CWDM4 was derived from G.694.2 and first used for 40GBASE-LR4. CWDM4 MSA then reused the CWDM4 grid for 100G, and IEEE reused it for 200G FR4 and 400G FR4. IEEE also doubled the LWDM grid for 400GBASE-LR8.

The CW-WDM MSA will leverage ITU-T and IEEE standards to specify multiple 8, 16 and 32 wavelength grid sets in O-band, for emerging advanced datacom and computing optics. The sets will have sufficient commonality so that laser suppliers only have to invest in one technology platform. Developers will have sufficient choice to enable innovation and design optimum solutions for a wide range of applications. Initial products may use 8 wavelengths, and then move to 16 and 32 wavelengths. MSA compliance will not require support of all specified sets.”

– Chris Cole, Chair, CW-WDM MSA
Adviser, II-VI Incorporated