SAN JOSE, Calif. Quellan Inc. and W.L. Gore & Associates have collaborated on a new copper interconnect for data center systems that the duo claims will significantly reduce power, size and latency while extending reach. The so-called Active Cables extend the reach of 10 Gbit/second CX4-type cables from less than ten to about 35 meters while dramatically reducing size and power consumption.
Quellan and Gore are among a growing number of companies wrestling with the problem of large bundles of copper cables with limited reach that restrict air flow in and around systems. Both Intel and Luxtera announced new optical cable options earlier this year.
Intel Corp. launched in June a 20 Gbit/second optical cable with integrated transceivers it said would be roughly equally in price to copper cables but extend reach to 100 meters. Luxtera rolled out in August its Blazar active optical cables that support data rates up to 40 Gbits/s over 300 meters.
The Quellan/Gore approach uses a new low-loss dielectric material in the cables from Gore combined with a signal conditioning chip from Quellan embedded in the receiving connector. The resulting cables use one-fifth the power of standard CX4 cables and reduce the interconnect latency of the cable itself to 300 picoseconds. They are also about a third of the size and weight of CX4 cables, easing the problem of air flow in data center systems.
The new cables can help users pack more computers into smaller clusters in the data center while improving critical power and thermal dynamics. The Active Cables, available now, will carry an unannounced premium over standard CX4 cables.
The Quellan chip currently handles four lanes of traffic at rates of 8.5 Gbits/second per lane and will be rated up to 10 Gbits/s per lane in the future. The 7x4 mm chip consumes 60mW per lane and processes noise cancellation in the analog domain.
"Power consumption is a paramount issue and the industry is devoid of low energy, small form factor solutions for this escalating problem " active cabling is an innovative answer to this massive problem," said Joel Goergen, chief scientist at router maker Force10 Networks in a prepared statement.
Separately, Quellan announced it has closed a $20 million C round of financing that included investments from Gore and a personal investment from analog guru Robert Dobkin, a founder and chief technology officer of Linear Technologies who is joining Quellan's advisory board.
"Interference noise has been the pre-eminent limiting factor in communications for decades and Quellan has a unique method to mitigate it," said Dobkin in a prepared statement.
"The semiconductor industry continues to generate more noise than noise cancellation," said Tony Stelliga, chief executive of Quellan, "So we see many opportunities in areas that include enabling better GPS products," he added.