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Future data centre and optical module development assumptions

The development of domestic data centres has gone through a phase of decentralised, small-scale development led by operators, mainly in communications buildings, and has gradually evolved towards market-driven scale, standardisation, high density and green energy efficiency. As we move into the future, the mission and concept of data centres will continue to evolve. The proportion of optical modules in the cost of data centre networks is also gradually rising, having reached around 6-7%, and the upgrade of optical modules is bound to follow the evolution of data centres together.

Four assumptions for the future of data centres

High Performance Computing
Since High Performance Computing (HPC) became an open cloud service, it has been accessible to everyone. The growth and expansion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) suggests the existence of applications based on the development of these key technologies. As these applications continue to evolve, it is implied that accessibility to HPC will be a key strategy for cutting-edge businesses and organisations to maintain an edge. While prototypes and trials are being done in the framework of the public cloud, these large organisations need end-to-end control in order for AI and machine learning based applications to be a differentiator for their business, and the only effective way to do this is to present them in the company data centre, also driving the development of data centre optical modules to higher speed rates.

Data centres require more storage space, which leads to larger data centres, more power and more space. It is much easier to manage and build dense data centres than to deploy large data centres. The use of small but dense data centres can lead to many future innovations. Data centres can be laid out from the inside out, with all IT items and server racks being quickly offloaded and placed around a central area. Optical modules are no exception. Smaller packages allow for better space utilisation and a larger number of optical modules can be deployed to meet the demands of high traffic growth.

Green energy efficiency
Data centres of the future should need to consume less energy, and optical modules should continue to evolve towards low power consumption. Experts predict that by 2025, data centres will receive around a third of their total electricity via solar power, with the majority of the remaining two thirds using natural gas, wind and nuclear energy.
The higher density of data centres means that they also require greater cooling capacity. Experts predict that data centres of the future will be able to cool themselves. It is predicted that future data centres will be built in power plants and cold places, enabling future data centres not only to generate their own electricity but also to transfer the heat generated to polar installations, fresh water containers or geothermal heat pumps.

Private Cloud
The shift to cloud computing is becoming a common feature for many organisations, but all of them want to maintain control over their information. In order for organisations to take advantage of their private cloud infrastructure, they will have to deploy data centres. In an IDC survey it was found that over 28% of the total amount spent on the cloud was spent on building private clouds and that low cost will be a hot topic for organisations to pursue. Businesses are already using software solutions in their private cloud services that can be used anywhere they need a public cloud infrastructure while ensuring complete control of information in the organisation. Many customers also don't care where their services originate, but for organisations, the data centre will be responsible for facilitating private cloud services and ensuring that workloads are executed in the most secure, optimal way.

Four directions for the evolution of optical modules in the data centre

Future data centre requirements for speed, density, power consumption and cost point the way to the evolution of data centre optical modules.

High speed and short iteration cycles
The 10G rate port iteration to 40G rate port has taken 5 years, 40G rate port to 100G rate port has taken 4 years, and 100G rate port to 400G rate port may only take 3 years.

High density, small package
The core of high density is to increase the transmission capacity of switches and server boards, essentially to meet the demand of high traffic growth; at the same time, the higher the density, the smaller the package has to be, which means that fewer switches can be deployed to save resources in the server room.

Low power consumption
Data centre optical modules also need to continue to evolve towards low power consumption. With data centre switches backplanes full of optical modules, if heat dissipation issues are not properly addressed, it will affect the performance and density of the optical modules. Low power consumption not only saves energy, but also generates less heat.

Low cost
The formation of large data centres will inevitably lead to a massive demand for optical modules. Low cost is a prerequisite for the release of massive demand, and low cost is always pursued by enterprises and suppliers.

These data centres will play an even more important role in our daily lives in the future, and these are just a few of the things we can expect in the near future.