New connector and cable technologies deliver higher data rates, higher signal integrity and higher density for next-generation data centers

By
Jean-Jacques DeLisle, contributing writer

Our civilization depends on data. Almost all technology and
devices connected to the internet of things depend on storing data in the
cloud. The massive demand for digital storage has led to an equally massive
increase in demand. Every year data-storage requirements increase by 40 percent.
As the need for reliable and powerful data storage centers increases, so does
the technology. Recently, new technologies have been developed to handle the
expected 40 zettabytes of information that will need to be stored by 2020.

 

Several factors are contributing to the growing need for data
storage. Cloud storage has become widespread in recent years with more and more
people storing information online rather than on their devices. Artificial
intelligence (AI) is another contributor as it requires massive amounts of
memory to operate. Deep learning (DL) and machine learning (ML) computing
systems also require extensive storage to operate.

 

Here are a few new technologies and products that will give data centers
the ability to handle the demands of the future.

 

TE Connectivity (TE) has announced a new Extra Large Array (XLA)
socket technology
that will enable the company to support
high-data speeds in next-generation data centers.  The XLA sockets are far more reliable than
previous connectors and offer a 78 percent increase in warpage control. The new
technology will enable data centers to transmit more data faster and will
result in a massive decrease in connection disruptions.

 

By using a new design that includes printed circuit boards (PCBs),
TE created a socket that warps far less than previous plastic designs. The
socket is the largest in the industry to date measuring 110 mm x 110 mm and
offers scalability up to 10,000+ pin counts. This large capacity will allow
data centers to handle the increase in data that will come in the next few
years. 

 

Image
source: TE.

 

The new XLA technology offers other advances as well. The sockets provide
a 33 percent improved true position on the solder ball and contact, which
increases overall reliability dramatically. The cables also have a low
coefficient of thermal expansion, which reduces the potential for problems over
their lifetime. TE has released two versions of the XLA cables, the hybrid land
grid array/ball grid array (LGA/BGA) as well as the dual-compression LGA/BGA
cable.

 

Another tech company who has produced some interesting solutions
to the problems that will face data centers is Molex LLC. Molex recently announced a full line of
next-generation data center solutions
to address
new hyperscale requirements. These new solutions offer higher data rates and
increased bandwidth, and can provide lower latency and insertion loss, which
reduces errors and increases reliability.

 

These new products support the Open19 Foundation initiative, which is
working to establish a new open standard for data center servers. It defines
form factors for servers, top-of-rack switches, and power shelves with a base
internal cage for 19-inch racks. The goal of the Open19 Foundation is to achieve a lower
cost per rack, lower cost per server and optimized power utilization in an open
standard to fit any 19-inch rack for servers, storage and networking equipment.

 

Open19 selected Molex’s Impel Customized Data Cable solution
as the backbone of the standard. The Impel and Impel Plus backplane connector
and custom cable solutions offer data rates up to 56 Gbits/s NRZ and 50 Gbits/s
PAM-4 for the standard rack solution. Since it uses the same footprint as
previous products, the solution can be used as a drop-in replacement in
existing architecture, eliminating the need for companies to completely
redesign their architecture.

 

Delivering higher data rates and higher data integrity, the
customized Impel-based Open19 cable allows 100 Gbits/s connection of up to 48
servers to one Open19 switch. “The plug-and-play solution aligns with standard
19-inch rack deployment and allows quick upgrade of legacy hardware,” said
Molex. 

The sockets are capable of higher speed than their predecessors
with data rates of up to 56 Gbits/s. According to Erin Byrne, the vice
president of engineering and chief technical officer for data and devices at TE
Connectivity, TE’s XLA socket technology provides the ability to scale to
extremely high pin counts, staying ahead of market demand for next-generation
switches and servers. “The XLA socket will enable the expansion in scale and
performance needed for future high-performance computing and processing,” he
said.