400G Optics in Hyperscale Data Centers

Updated on Jun 23, 2022

Since their advent, data centers have been striving hard to address the rising bandwidth requirements. A look at the stats reveals that 3.04 Exabytes of data is being generated on a daily basis. Whenever a hyperscale data center is taken into consideration, the bandwidth requirements are massive as the relevant applications require a preemptive approach due to their scalable nature. As the introduction of 400G data centers has taken the data transfer speed to a whole new level, it has brought significant convenience in addressing various areas of concern. In this article, we will dig a little deeper and try to answer the following questions:

  • What are the driving factors of 400G development?

  • What are the reasons behind the use of 400G optics in hyperscale data centers?

  • What are the trends in 400G devices in large-scale data centers?


What Are the Driving Factors For 400G Development?

The driving factors for 400G development are segregated into video streaming services and video conferencing services. These services require pretty high data transfer speeds in order to function smoothly across the globe.

Video Streaming Services

Video streaming services were already taking a toll on the bandwidth requirements. That, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, forced a large population to stay and work from home. This automatically increased the usage of video streaming platforms. A look at the stats reveals that a medium-quality stream on Netflix consumes 0.8 GB per hour. See that in relation to over 209 million subscribers. As the traveling costs came down, the savings went to improved quality streams on Netflix like HD and 4K. What stood at 0.8 GB per hour rose to 3 and 7 GB per hour. This evolved the need for 400G development.

Video Conferencing Services

As COVID-19 made working from home the new norm, video conferencing services also saw a major boost. Till 2021, 20.56 million people have been reported to be working from home in the US alone. As video conferencing took center stage, Zoom, which consumes 500 MB per hour, saw a huge increase in its user base. This also puts great pressure on the data transfer needs.


What Makes 400G Optics the Ideal Choice For Hyperscale Data Centers?

Significant Decrease in Energy and Carbon Footprint

To put it simply, 400G raises the data transfer speed four times. 400G reduces the cost of 100G ports as breakouts when comparing a 4 x 100G solution to facilitate 400GbE with a single 400G solution to do the same. A single node at the output minimizes the risk of failures as well as lower the energy requirement. This brings down the ESG footprint that has become a KPI for the organizations going forward.

Reduced Operational Cost

As mentioned earlier, a 400G solution requires a single 400G port, whereas addressing the same requirement via a 100G solution requires four 100G ports. On a router, four ports cost way more than a single port that can facilitate rapid data transfer. The same is the case with power. Combined together, these two bring the operational cost down to a considerable extent.


Trends of 400G Optics in Large-Scale Data Centers—Quick Adoption

The introduction of 400G solution in large-scale data centers has reshaped the entire sector. This is due to a humongous increase in the data transfer speeds. According to research, 400G is expected to replace 100G and 200G deployments way faster than its predecessors. Since its introduction, more and more vendors are upgrading to network devices that support 400G. The following image truly depicts the technology adoption rate.


Challenges Ahead

Lack of Advancement in the 400G Optical Transceivers sector

Although the shift towards such network devices is rapid, there are a number of implementation challenges. This is because it is not only the devices that need to be upgraded but also the infrastructure. Vendors are trying to upgrade them in order to stay ahead of the curve but the cost of the development and maturity of optical transceivers is not at the expected benchmark. The same is the case with their cost and reliability. As optical transceivers are a critical element, this comes as a major challenge in the deployment of 400G solutions.

Latency Measurement

In addition, the introduction of this solution has also made network testing and monitoring more important than ever. Latency measurement has always been a key indicator when evaluating performance. Data throughput combined with jitter and frame loss also comes as a major concern in this regard.

Investment in Network Layers

Lastly, the creation of a plug-and-play environment for this solution also needs to be more realistic. This will require a greater investment in the physical, higher level, and network-IP components layers.



Rapid technological advancements have led to concepts like the Internet of Things. These implementations require greater data transfer speeds. That, combined with the world going to remote work, has exponentially increased the traffic. Hyperscale data centers were already feeling the pressure and the introduction of 400G data centers is a step in the right direction. It is a preemptive approach to address the growing global population and the increasing number of internet users.


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