With the rapidly increasing use of Internet-based applications such as social networking and multimedia content distribution, and with systems and equipment being increasingly connected through Internet, data storage and computing is migrating to a cloud of large-scale datacenters. While substantial data traffic will continue to flow between users and these datacenters across Internet, the vast majority of overall data communication is taking place within the datacenter. This is also where the largest part of the power used for global networking is consumed.
The performance of a datacenter has become largely limited by the capacity and efficiency of the networks used to interconnect servers, storage units, and switches. It is predicted that future datacenters, with very large server count and bandwidth, will need networking fabrics with Exabit/s aggregate capacity, which is three orders of magnitude higher than today´s maximum capacity. Optics plays a crucial role in forming these interconnect networks.
Scaling of interconnect capacity has so far been achieved predominantly through an increase of the lane rate and through the use of parallel fibers. Future large-scale datacenters will require multi-Tbit/s interconnect link capacity and major improvements of bandwidth density. However, the evolution of current optical interconnects technology is heading towards saturation at the 1 Tb/s level. The aim of iTRAN is to substantially improve the interconnect capacity beyond the limits of current technology by unleashing the wavelength dimension.
iTRAN is supported by a 6-year Research Environment Grant from the Swedish Research Council (VR). The strong environment needed to reach the objectives and achieve the goals of iTRAN is created by a joint effort between the Fiber Optic Communication Research Center (FORCE) at Chalmers University of Technology and the Silicon Photonics for Optical Communication (SPOC) research center at the Technical University of Denmark.