Test system caters for increased data centre speeds

| Information and Communication Technology

Ixia AresONE 400GE High Performance test system

400 Gigabit Ethernet testers can now be used for testing legacy 100GE equipment in data centres using signal conversion technology.

A cost-effective data centre test system has been developed that enables operators to make use of 400 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) capable test ports to link with and test legacy 100GE network equipment.

The new test equipment comprises the Keysight Ixia AresONE 400GE High Performance Layer 1 through to 3 test system based on Pulse Amplitude Modulation level-4 (PAM4) signaling interconnected to legacy 100GE non-return-to-zero (NRZ) networking equipment ports using Credo’s HiWire Active Electrical Cable (AEC) technology. This collaboration between Keysight and Credo provides speed-shifting of the signaling rates and forward error correction (FEC) conversion.

Although there is already a significant deployment of 100GE NRZ-based technologies in data centres today, higher speeds, such as 400GE, create a new mixed signalling, mixed FEC, multi-rate environment. This new environment produces unique challenges relating to the integration of PAM-4-based 400GE and 100GE-capable switch ports with existing 100GE NRZ signalling-based switch port technology.

The combined system bridges the signalling gap between incompatible PAM4- and NRZ-encoded signalling. It removes potential compromises in testing configurations to improve overall performance validation and quality. The AEC cable technology performs the necessary conversions to allow a PAM4-encoded port to interoperate with an NRZ-encoded port. The system provides support for testing four ports of 100GE NRZ from a single port of 400GE QSFP-DD PAM4 in 4x100GE speed mode.

“Data centre operators are faced with a complex environment and need to use their existing investments for the future,” said Ram Periakaruppan, vice president, product development, Keysight’s Network Applications & Security group. “The Ixia AresONE 400GE test system supports Credo’s interconnect technology in high density 100GE test beds, enabling data centre operators to accelerate validation of 100GE NRZ devices and network infrastructure while using 400GE-capable PAM-4 ports to support demand in the future.”

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