New PCl Standards Supported by OCuLink Connectors
The new PCI Express 4.0 spec running at 16 Gbps per lane is being supported by the 2nd generation Optical Copper (Cu) Link interconnect system for inside and outside the box. Molex’s Nano Pitch connector and cable assembly system was selected by the PCI-SIG committee and is the option for the newly developing SAS 4.0 spec 24 Gbps per lane performance storage links. Internal cable assemblies, PCB receptacle connectors, shielded external cable assemblies and port receptacle connectors are nearing the final design and business case inputs by suppliers of tooling development. Some suppliers are expected to design their connector product to be able to support the next generation of PCI Express 5.0 which is running at 32 Gbps per lane for future proofing and reduction of development costs within the next few years.
The OCuLink-1 interconnect system has been a mainstay on the market for a few years now and have been used in support of the PCI Express 3.0. The OCuLink-2 external plug connector and port receptacle connector on the other hand works as a two-piece metal to metal contact system with the receptacle having a lower height and shorter depth inside the box on the PCB. This requires the OCuLink-2 plug end weight and thermal cooling path to be outside the box and then becomes a design concern for the 4 and 8 lane active cable assemblies that are needed for the datacenter reaches.
The OCuLink-2 external cabling usage in the SAS storage systems is still somewhat unclear as the new HDminiSAS 4- and 8-lane interconnect system has evolved from the dominant and traditional miniSAS connector system. MicroQSFP is also competing for the external SAS cabling applications and the OCuLink-2 will likely be used within the rack and short rack rows in new smaller datacenters based on existing Express Fabric architecture. Lately there has been a growing trend within the industry towards the converged I/O interface systems which typically only uses one connector type for all their networked devices which includes servers, storage, memory and communication subsystems. However there exists hope and a push to use the OCuLink-2 in the new USB 3.1 and nascent 3.2 docks because the USB 3.1 Type C connectors is limited to only 2 or 3 lanes.
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