High Speed Report


The Needs, Opportunities and Requirements for
Key Components and Materials 2016 to 2021


The new report from BPA describes the needs and technology challenges for the supply chain by analysing how systems will need to adapt (Routers, servers, base-stations etc).

In previous High Speed Reports, the focus has been on the core and metro access parts of the Datacoms and Telecoms infrastructure.  Traditionally this was looked after by the regional Telco’s and was deployed with voice communications in mind.  For them and for particularly companies such as AT&T, the challenge was to manage voice traffic in real time.  Systems were developed where capacity reflected peak loading but the size of the “data” was small, double digit Kb.  In fact a text message is around 20kb.  Adding a photo increases this by an order of magnitude, namely 350Kb.  A one minute video increases this again by an order of magnitude to 4Mb.  A one minute High Definition recording is 1GB. The uploading and downloading of this type of data is driving the demand for increased bandwidth.

In 2008 a disruptive technology came along.  The iphone 3GS and it heralded the start of mobile broadband where in addition to voice traffic people were sending and receiving media files such as photos.

Opened iphone

At that time, much of the data accessing was from down loading web pages. Subsequently band width demand increased from the emergence of the following applications:

  • Online storage of personal media
  • Media download and distribution
  • Cloud Storage

More recently the advent of cloud computing has not only focused on storage and access but also the need for computing power for IP services such as onlinepayments/banking.

Enterprises started outsourcing their networks which was facilitated by the fall in the cost of memory/storage and lead to the rise of the Datacenter (DC). This rise is core to the future trends for high speed systems, components and materials


Long Distance, Metro and Metro Access communication infrastructure (fixed or wireless) has been the domain of regional or country Telecoms providers. In part this has been because the companies have been state owned and a key remit has been to provide a telecoms infrastructure based on voice communications.

Since these times, we are now in a world (2016), where voice traffic no longer dominates the demands of a region’s or a country’s infrastructure. Data, particularly in the form of video upload and download drives the demand.

IoT and Machine to Machine (M2M) communications will also affect the landscape although not necessarily the demands in speed or bandwidth but rather the number of nodes or devices that will be interconnected. It is estimated in 5 years’ time that at least 50Bn devices will be interconnected – all over the internet.

Cisco one of the leading global providers of Datacomms Infrastructure equipment (and services) publishes annually a well respected analysis of data traffic and makes some forecasts of how this demand will grow.

Cisco believes IP video will account for 80 percent of all IP traffic by 2019, up from 67 percent in 2014. They also forecast a marked increase in network traffic associated with game downloads driven by availability of storage capacity on gaming consoles, an increase in upstream cloud traffic, and increasing high bandwidth connections.


In recent times, the Datacomms infrastructure market has seen new entrants focusing on services rather than being hardware lead including Internet Service Providers (ISPs) namely:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Yahoo
  • Apple

The above new entrants and specialized datacenter providers such as NTT are stimulating the growth and build out for Datacenters (DC) and HypaDatacenters (HDC). This has changed the High-Speed equipment landscape and players. The Capex for Datacenters is set to be $60Bn in 2016 with the Capex from the telecoms companies in the region of $90bn. By 2021 this will reach a total of $200bn split 50:50 between the ISPs and the Telecoms providers. These ISPs therefore, are having a greater say in what technologies will be employed.

HDC’s from the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft etc are taking a number of contrary strategies from the traditional players. The following are key changes of emphasis for hardware and its configuration:

  • Technology selection is focused on a 2-3 year time frame
  • Non-proprietary deployment

On this latter point the Open Compute Project is significant. The Open Compute Project (OPC) is developing a specification and a reference box for an open, OS-agnostic top-of-rack switch. Although a Facebook initiative, other companies have joined OPC including Cisco, Juniper, Lenovo, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Big Switch Networks, Broadcom, Cumulus Networks, Intel and VMware amongst others.


By 2019 there will be 60 percent more datacenters in the world’s metropolitan areas than there are today, and datacenter interconnect volumes will increase by more than 400 percent. New requirements for Datacenter Interconnect (DCI) have grown out of operators’ needs to deploy very high-capacity, high-speed, efficient transport between their own data centre sites. Figures 5.3 and 5.4 below show the breakdown of DC traffic for 2014 and 2019.

Datacenter traffic breakdown 2014
Datacenter traffic breakdown 2019


Technically there are significant challenges. The new network switches for instances will have to run on DC power, like the rest of the equipment in the Hyperscale stack. They will need to support software-defined networking, which manages peak demands in workload. All while being vendor neutral.

DC designs are primarily designed for energy efficiency and include 277 VAC power distribution that eliminates one transformer stage in a traditional server cluster. This is due to the fact that over a 3-5 year period, the OPEX will outweigh the CAPEX for that period. So this drives the hardware design not capacity.

The other two major infrastructure shifts include:

  • Moving the siting of the Datacentres to the metro access networks
  • Data Centre total refresh every 2-3 years

100Gbps outside of the core network is currently implemented as multiple channels of 10Gbps or 25Gbps.  The emerging generation of electrical backplanes for infrastructure equipment will implement four channels of 25Gbps. The first generation of 400GE in 3-4 years’ time will implement 16 channels until 50Gbps components become cost effectively widely available to reduce the channel number to 8.  This step up will create immense challenges in backplane and line card design, control of crosstalk and signal integrity, connector performance and density. In addition the thermal budget will be quadrupled.

This report will focus on the move to 100GbE and further out to 400GbE and 5G. It is envisaged with more power hungry systems, operating at higher frequencies will be required – presenting a need for new improved PCBs and Laminate materials, not to mention Si Photonics and their packaging.

NB:  For this report, BPA has developed comprehensive forecasts for the components mentioned above and high-speed systems, (Servers, Routers Basestations and Portable Terminals) out to 2021 along with key system technology roadmaps detailing the future technology requirements and hence opportunities for the supply chain.


Reflex Photonics Optically Enabled ASIC
  • Video upload as well as download will result in the exponential increase in band width demand from the fixed and wireless high speed Datacomms infrastructure.
  • The rise of outsourcing computing power to DC’s and Hyper DC’s will drive the need for cost effective non-proprietary high speed systems, subassemblies and components.
  • Investment in High Speed Communications infrastructure by the Telecoms companies by 2020 will be matched by the ISPs at approximately $90Bn for each of these sectors.
  • 100Gbps link design will be influenced by HDC/DC and will shift the technology focus from Coherent Laser to Direct Detect from 2017 onwards.
  • QSPF 28+ packages will be an enabling technology for lower power transceivers to keep in check the ever rising power budget for HDC’s and DC’s.
  • DC’s are going to utilize more white box solutions with often all fiber being lit on start up. This would lead to a major DC refresh every 3 years with whole units being replaced rather than individual racks.
  • Moving forward OPEX is a larger cost than CAPEX for DC’s influencing the selection of lower operating cost technology that build in redundancy or upgradeability.
  • A key consideration of a DC is the power requirement. So as to not be reliant on a single power source, large data centres will be built in clusters requiring for speed and latency, 100Gb and within 5 years, 200gb links.
  • Moving forward DSP design and their costs will be a key element towards low cost optics.
  • Serial data rates across high speed system backplanes and line cards will increase from 10Gbps to 20-25Gbps enabling 100Gbps links using the Carrier Ethernet standard, IEEE802.3ba.
  • Meanwhile higher serial data rates to enable 5 x 20Gbps or 4 x 25Gbps across a copper backplane are proving a challenge in terms of silicon development and IC packaging, board design and fabrication, thermal management and test.
  • The power budget for systems having multiple high-speed serial data channels will also add to the whole life costs of such systems. Future generations will require 50Gbps serial data to support the next generation standard for 400GbE.
  • The severity of the design constraints upwards of 50Gbps serial data will drive a renewed look at all-optical systems for which optical connect for on-chip, chip-to-chip, chip-to-board, board-to-board and optical backplanes will be the essential technology base. In the context of the timescale for this report it is likely solutions will move the optics on to the board. This will have an effect by good design of electrical traces to mitigate against higher board laminate costs.
  • In 2017 BPA forecasts the much greater use of hybrid boards with some daughter cards using 8-8-8 type constructions with a mixture of FR4, Megtron 4, 6, and 7. (Or equivalents).
  • In particular, silicon photonics will be a key enabler in handling 100Gbps and upwards. A key development will be Inphi’s /Microsoft’s Transceiver.
  • Wireless communications developments will also be driven by faster data rates and new base station modules and components to support LTE and backhaul will be required. 5G will see the development of new radios and utilization of the frequency bands above 30GHz. Those below 6GHz will be optimized for transmitting data (with the growth of the IoT) from interconnected devices which will number over 20million in 2020.


The report will deliver the following

  • Identification of the markets, applications, equipment types and vendors for high-speed systems.
  • Identification of the driving forces for each of the markets identified, and where appropriate, for each system within that market segment.
  • For each high-speed system identified, a system technology roadmap from 2015 through to 2020 will be produced, showing the technology trends for these systems.
  • A review of the implications that the technology/systems requirements have on the use of substrates, laminates and IC packaging within these systems.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of electrical and optical interconnection technologies for high-speed systems, and how they may complement each other. A review of recent developments in intra-system high-speed electrical and optical technologies, together with the identification of the organisations involved.
  • Forecasts of the market value and volume for key systems in each market segment from 2015 through 2020. This will include:
    • High-end routers
    • Wireless base stations
    • Blade Servers
    • High End Servers for Enterprises and Datacentres
  • Identification of the specific requirements of each type of high-speed system affecting substrates.
  • Identification of substrate material types suitable for meeting high-speed and high band width requirements. The key attributes of these materials will be defined and the opportunities quantified.
  • The technology trends for both electrical and optical high-speed substrates will be examined in terms of material and technical characteristics and their applicability to the systems under investigation.
  • Technology roadmaps will be developed for substrate materials identifying the key technical characteristic affected including:
    • Dielectric constant
    • Loss tangent
    • Dimensional stability
    • Moisture absorption
    • Peel strength
    • Electrical or optical characteristics
    • Cost/value
  • Market forecasts will be provided by material type identified from 2016 through to 2021.
  • The impact that high-speed interconnection solutions has on IC Package interconnection and attachment will be reviewed, together with the identification of the optimum solutions.
  • The role of materials within high-speed IC packaging will be examined, together with the requirements. Leading suppliers of these materials will be identified along with what impact their developments will have.
  • Technology roadmaps will be provided for Optoelectronic Packages identifying the key technical characteristic affected.

Purchase High Speed Report

Price: £1750 |  €2275  |  US$2500

The price includes a one hour Skype discussion on the Report. The High Speed Report was published on 1st May 2016.

Business Intelligence

BPA’s reports are the outcome of wide ranging and considerable research and expertise, and we are pleased to share this knowledge in focused consultations with industry participants. The added value this represents is that you will receive a unique, personalized perspective on the opportunities and challenges presented to your business by the changes in the High Speed arena.

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