Fiber optic connectors are the ideal place to start meeting the need for higher density as we move to accommodate the high density optical interconnectivity demands of hyperscale data centers and edge computing – that’s the view of David Aspray, European Sales Manager for SENKO Advanced Components.
With the inexorable approach of the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based services, 4K videos and 5G, the growth rate of global data center processing capacity is expected to exceed 35% CAGR, requiring expansion of existing data centers and also the construction of new ones. At the same time, latency requirements will mean that data centers will need to be closer to the users, especially in time-critical applications such as autonomous vehicles. With such space and power constraints, future data centers will need to be compact and energy efficient.
“We are helping to shrink the footprint of high density data centers by shrinking the fiber connectors” said Aspray. “Current data centers predominantly use a combination of Lucent Connector (LC) and Multi-fiber Push On (MPO) connectors as a high density solution. This saves a lot of space compared to conventional Standard Connector (SC) and Fiber Optic (FC) connectors.  Although, MPO connectors can increase capacity without increasing the footprint, they are laborious to manufacture and challenging to clean. We now offer a range of compact connectors that are more durable in the field as they are designed using proven technology, are easier to handle and clean, and offer considerable space saving benefits. This is without a doubt the way forward,” he added. 
With the specific objective of addressing the needs of enterprise and hyperscale data centers, SENKO has designed the CS® and SN® connectors in collaboration with the QSFP MSA, a working group of transceiver manufacturers. Both are compact duplex connectors. This gives a 40% increase in density compared to a high density LC solution. The connectors come with built in pull tabs in a range of lengths for easy patching. CS allows 4 fiber connectivity in a QSFP transceiver module, doubling the connection capacity of LC. The SN connector is an high density duplex solution with a pitch of 3.1mm and an even more compact body. With SN it is possible to connect 8 fibers in a single QSFP transceiver.
“Today’s MPO-based transceivers are the backbone of data center topography but data center design is transitioning from a “hierarchical” model to a “leaf-and-spine” model,” commented Aspray. “In a leaf-and-spine model it is necessary to break out the individual channels in order to interconnect the spine switches to any of the leaf switches. Using MPO connectors this would require a separate patch panel with either break-out cassettes or break-out cables. Since the SN based transceivers are already broken out by having four (4) individual SN connectors at the transceiver interface they can be patched directly. The changes that operators make to their data centers now can future-proof them against inevitable increases in demand, which is why it is a good idea  for operators to consider deploying higher density solutions like the CS and SN connectors, even if it is not imperative to their current data center design.”
A full explanation of the break-out and other benefits to be gained from CS and SN connectors can be found in the CS and SN Application Note on the Senko Website