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Lightwave gathered opinions from several people in the industry to look at the opportunity for 400G in the data center during 2020. This included opinions on if the ramp of 400GbE client optics would begin and what the timeline of 400ZR introduction looked like.

“I think you’re going to see more people moving into production with DR4 and FR4 400GbE modules, and they’ll be single-wavelength 100G stuff. The single-wavelength 100G is probably more interesting, in terms of the immediate applications,” (Andrew Schmitt) told Lightwave. “The problem is that the hyperscale guys have all deviated to 200G or 2x200G types of solutions that allowed them to leverage cheap 100G optics and PAM4 chips and get better performance per dollar than going to the 400G solutions that were being proposed. So, all in all, there’s not a lot of interest from any of the hyperscale guys in standard 400GbE optics in 2020.”

Microsoft (the prime customer for Inphi’s original COLORZ transceiver to enable IP over DWDM architectures) will drive it. “Certainly, the 400ZR should be a no-brainer replacement for COLORZ, if it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing,” Schmitt said. “So I’ve got to believe that Microsoft would want to make the switch as soon as possible. But they haven’t specifically said what they’re going to do.”