How Fiber is Powering Hyperscale Data Center Growth | Corning

How Fiber is Powering the Growth of Hyperscale Data Centers

By Michael Crook
Published: May 4, 2023

The race is on to deliver the internet of the future and it all hinges on data centers. Web giants are hustling to build out clusters of servers and high-capacity facilities that can manage expected annual growth and can accommodate the proliferation of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). It’s up to network operators to create a network environment that enables low-latency, high data processing, and significant data storage. 

AI and ML require more than just additional servers; to unlock their full potential requires a rearchitecting of data center networks with more capable infrastructure. This is a tall task for hyperscale operations with massive centers spanning hundreds of thousands of square feet with server counts reaching into the millions. Some 700 hyperscale centers with at least 10,000 servers were operating globally by the end of 2021—an increase of almost 20 percent from the previous year—and this growth is expected to continue along with processing demands.

To support current and future data flow demands, hyperscale data centers require one critical component: modern fiber optic connectivity. Here are some ways that the newest generation of fiber products are helping operators prepare their networks for the future.  

Meeting The Need for Higher Speed

To keep up with the tremendous demands of AI and ML applications, many hyperscale data centers have begun to deploy 800-gigabit transceivers. Going forward, companies are planning roadmaps for higher capacity network switches interconnected with higher capacity transceivers as they become available.

These speeds will require optical fiber for low-loss transmission. This presents a problem for older data center campuses, which are experiencing congestion issues in their conduits connecting buildings. Instead of digging new trenches for additional capacity, these data centers can maximize their conduit with flexible high-fiber count optic cabling that pack hundreds of fiber strands into small-diameter cables. These new solutions are well suited to handle growing future bandwidth needs.

Facilitating Faster, Easier Installation

Hyperscale data centers are expanding quickly and simply can’t afford to be delayed by infrastructure complexity. Recent labor shortages have caused a greater need for streamlined pre-connectorized solutions.

To help data center operators maximize fiber pathways, Corning developed our first flexible ribbon cable, Corning® MiniXtend® cable with Flow 200 Ribbon Technology.  The MiniXtend® cable with Flow 200 Ribbon Technology is designed for data centers and carrier networks, with fiber counts up to 864. This cable features SMF-28® Contour optical fiber with a reduced 190 micron outer diameter arranged into a flowing ribbon configuration that provides flexibility and backward splicing compatibility with legacy fibers. Its unique 12-fiber flow ribbon arrangement enables simplified handling for network operators, saving time and labor costs. Its reduced outer diameter allows for more efficient use of materials in manufacturing and higher fiber counts per duct, all resulting in a reduced carbon footprint.

Based on customer feedback, Corning has developed the EDGE™ Distribution System, a pre-engineered solution to shorten the installation time for server row cabling by up to 70%.  This system can deploy a single 144-count fiber cable within a facility to connect servers that would previously require multiple different fiber jumpers. Featuring pre-connectors, the EDGE™ Distribution System can be installed much quicker than traditional cabling, thus lowering the cost of network downtime and labor. 

Combined, these new products enable hyperscale data centers to expand as quickly as possible to meet today’s needs while leaving space for future expansion, if needed.  

Increased Safety

Installing upgrades inside data centers involve precarious labor. The task of maintaining or upgrading cabling can involve multiple technicians standing on ladders for hours to access cable trays located directly above rows of servers. Modern solutions like the EDGE™ Distribution System that feature a single-cable assembly allow for workers to complete the installation much more quickly and easily, reducing the risk of accidents.

Innovation for the Future

Today, data center cabling can expand across various terrestrial settings. Corning’s newest addition to our fiber portfolio, Vascade® EX2500 optical fiber, can be used for strenuous long-haul and subsea data transmission and is engineered to create seamless network connectivity from land to sea. With a very large effective area and the lowest loss of all of Corning’s subsea fibers, it enables high-capacity, long-distance networks. Vascade® EX2500 optical fiber is also available in a 200-micron outer diameter, a first-of-its-kind innovation for very large effective area fibers, supporting the use of high-density, high-capacity cables to meet growing bandwidth demand.

Corning is constantly looking to be at the forefront of the latest tech frontier to connect the unconnected and bring progress to fruition.

To learn more about Corning’s solutions, click here.

Michael Crook with Corning Optical Communications

Michael Crook
is a Data Center Market Development Manager. He is responsible for new fiber optic innovations and commercial solutions targeted for multi-tenant, hyperscale, and enterprise data center deployments.  With over 15 years of experience, Michael has much experience in designing and building fiber optic network infrastructures.

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