Mixed-Signal IP Company Claims ‘World’s First’ 800G Ethernet DSP

December 07, 2023 by Jake Hertz

800G Ethernet plagues the data center with high power consumption and heat generation. A new optical DSP from Credo Semiconductor is rising to meet these challenges.

As more data-intensive applications like machine learning reach the data center, the underlying technology must evolve to keep up. One recent innovation is 800G Ethernet, which aims to meet the escalating demands for higher bandwidth and faster data transfer rates. However, these faster data rates present major challenges in power consumption, especially where optical networking is involved.


Dove 850

Credo Semiconductor's Dove 850 optical DSP. Image (modified) used courtesy of Credo Semiconductor

To help address this tradeoff, mixed-signal IP company Credo Semiconductor recently announced a new optical DSP, claimed to be the “world’s first” 800G solution. 


The Dove 850, an Optical DSP

Credo’s new optical DSP, the Dove 850, is a unidirectional 8 x 112 Gb/s DSP optimized for operations in linear receive optics. 

In an LRO transceiver or active optical cable (AOC), the DSP plays a pivotal role in signal retiming and equalization from the electrical input to the optical line side output. Credo says its DSP consumes half the power of competing solutions. According to the company, the Dove 850 achieves this by performing signal retiming and equalization only in the transmit path from the electrical input to the optical line side output. This focused application of DSP technology in the transmit path is a key factor in reducing power consumption. 


The Dove 850 in a larger system

The Dove 850 in a larger system. Image used courtesy of Credo

The Dove 850 also facilitates IEEE-compliant optical transmit signaling by eliminating manual per-port tuning. This lowers bit error rates, enhances sensitivity, reduces performance variation, and improves resilience to different conditions like varying-switch ASICs, PCB traces, and environmental factors.

Other noteworthy features include independent phase-locked loops for each lane, support for various breakout applications, compliance with OIF CEI-112G-MR interface standards, and integrated diagnostic features that facilitate faster market reach and efficient system debugging. The device also supports various optics like VCSELs, silicon photonics, and EML—adaptable to specific application requirements. Additionally, its compatibility with varying switch interfaces on the host side eliminates the need for customized settings.


The Rise of 800G Ethernet in Data Centers

800 Gigabit Ethernet in data centers represents a significant leap in network technology. This technology aims to meet the escalating demands for higher bandwidth and faster data transfer rates for applications such as machine learning, which require rapid processing and movement of vast amounts of data. However, the implementation of 800G Ethernet in data centers is not without its challenges. 


Higher data rates lead to more power consumption in data centers

Higher data rates lead to more power consumption in data centers. Image used courtesy of Keysight Technologies

One of the primary challenges with the adoption of 800G Ethernet is the substantially higher power consumption and the associated heat generation. The higher data rates and bandwidth capabilities of 800G Ethernet naturally lead the network infrastructure to consume more energy. This higher power usage not only impacts the operational costs of data centers but also raises concerns regarding environmental sustainability. The additional heat generated by these high-speed operations also necessitates more robust and efficient cooling solutions.

Another significant challenge is maintaining signal integrity at higher speeds. As data transmission rates increase, the likelihood of signal degradation and bit errors also rises. This is a critical concern in data centers where data integrity and reliability are paramount. Ensuring stable and error-free data transmission at 800G speeds requires advanced technological solutions, particularly in the realm of signal processing and error correction.


The Future of Data Center Technology

The challenges of implementing 800G Ethernet in data centers will likely persist and evolve. However, this increasing demand for higher bandwidth and faster data transfer rates, coupled with concerns about power consumption and environmental sustainability, will drive hardware innovation in this space. Products like the Dove 850 are a testament to the ways companies are responding to the growing needs of modern data centers.