Cloud Provider Tencent and Spectra7 Plan to Accelerate Analog Active Copper Cable Adoption

Hyperscaler Tencent together with analog semiconductor company Spectra7 Microsystems have launched the CRX (Copper Reach Extension) Consortium – to accelerate the adoption of active copper cable products using technology from Spectra7. The CRX Consortium aims to address the rising cost and power of optical interconnects and the decreasing reach of passive copper as data rates throughout the data center increase.

“Tencent has worked together with Spectra7 to create the CRX Consortium to accelerate the adoption of analog active copper cable technology,” said Dr. Min Sun, Senior Network Architect, Tencent. “We chose this analog active copper cable approach over competing technologies because of its low power, low cost and fast link-training. Going forward we plan to use only passive and active copper cables for our server connections.

Additional founding members will include a complementary mix of partners spanning the entire supply chain for data centers. The complete list of founding members is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. The initial CRX specification release is planned for Fall 2019. CRX consortium members plan to begin mass deployment of cables complying with the CRX specification later this year.

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25G Ethernet Connections

As one of China’s largest cloud companies, Tencent continues its rapid expansion of data centers around the world with a keen interest in improving efficiency. The formation of the CRX Consortium is intended to further enhancing efficiency in Tencent’s interconnected data center environments globally.

Initial focus of the CRX Consortium will be on 25G Ethernet connections between servers and switches. The consortium is developing a specification for these cables that is expected to be released in Q4 2019. Subsequent specifications will be developed for 50G, 100G, 400G and 800G Ethernet as well as other evolving protocols. The specifications will cover both NRZ signaling as well as PAM4 signaling.

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