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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 05, 2010

Altera Announces Interoperability of FPGAs with Avago QSFP Optical Modules

By Divya Narain, TMCnet Contributor

San Jose, Cali.-based Altera (News - Alert) Corporation has announced that its Stratix IV GT FPGAs are interoperable with 40G Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable, or “QSFP,” optical modules from Avago Technologies. QSFP optical modules provide 40-Gbps data rates across a single link of fiber-optic cable.

Designers are set to benefit from the flexibility and performance benefits of FPGAs to bridge 40G QSFP optical modules to other devices in their line cards and increase overall system bandwidth.

The next-generation hot-pluggable interface for high-performance switches, routers, servers and host bus adapters, QSFP is used in computing and telecommunication applications. It is known to be the most compact, 4-high-speed-channel, Z-axis pluggable interface supporting data rates up to 40 Gbps. The Stratix IV GT FPGA's 11.3-Gbps transceivers connect directly to the 40G QSFP optical module without the need of bridging chips.

“Stratix IV GT FPGAs provide an ideal solution to designers of high-performance networking and telecommunications systems who continue to push their system's bandwidth to new limits,” said Luanne Schirrmeister, senior director of component product marketing at Altera. “The multiple 11.3-Gbps transceivers featured in Stratix IV GT FPGAs give designers the opportunity to connect eight QSFP optical modules to a single FPGA and transport up to 320 Gbps of aggregate data in their system. Obtaining this same level of performance using FPGAs with sub-10-Gbps transceivers requires the use of 32 SFP+ optical modules.”

Altera used a Stratix IV GT FPGA development board to achieve interoperability with 40G QSFP optical modules. The transmitter and receiver in the development board connected via SMA (News - Alert) cables to two QSFP boards featuring 40G QSFP modules from Avago Technologies. The QSFP modules are connected by 30 meters of OM2 multimode optical fiber cable assembly. After more than 100 hours of operation, zero errors were observed, resulting in a bit error rate exceeding 10E-16.

Divya Narain is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Divya’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire