Highlights from OFC 2018 Show Floor

By Paul Mooney

If you only had one hour to spend at this year’s Optical Fiber Conference in San Diego, you could not have spent it better than by visiting the Ethernet Alliance booth. You probably had to fight your way through curious crowds once there, as it was a hub of excitement and activity just like in previous years!

Walking through the OFC 2018 show floor perusing the latest offerings from optics manufacturers, it was apparent that 400G optics are the leading edge touted by all major vendors. You could check out samples of those optics in their display cases or you could see them in action at the Ethernet Alliance booth. There, CFP8 and QSFP-DD 400G optics were utilized in an impressive, multi-vendor 400Gb/s Ethernet demonstration running throughout the booth and across the OFC show floor between other participating Ethernet Alliance member locations.

Walking the show floor revealed the commoditization of the optics market for 100Gb/s and lower speeds. It was not so long ago that vendors had trouble conjuring up QSFP28 optics at all. This year, due to the proliferation of suppliers (and supplies!), the Ethernet Alliance booth easily supported a dozen 100G QSFP28 links as part of it’s 10G to 100G interoperability demonstration. The number of suppliers was even larger for rates less than 100Gb/s.

Many of the big Ethernet chip, switch and router vendors presented amazing showcases at OFC packed with their latest products. Going through them all could have taken several days. A more effective way to see the highlights was to head straight for the Ethernet Alliance booth where many of these same vendors traded the safety of a canned trade show demo to tackle the real-world challenges of building working, multi-vendor high speed networks and put them on display for all to see.

One of these operational networks was FlexE. I am optimistic about this innovative technology, it was encouraging to see it in action with 400G FlexE links from the Ethernet Alliance booth to the OIF and other booths. There were additional FlexE demonstrations throughout the trade show floor for those interested in learning more about its potential and versatility.

Naturally, OFC was a showcase for the usual assortment of fiber cables (including some that were manufactured on the Space Station), patch panels, switches, transceivers and lasers. The event also offered a wide array of technical seminars and tutorials along with a library of technical papers for further research.

After visiting the Ethernet Alliance booth, attendees could listen to the plenary speakers who outlined the challenges for the future – 5G, the Cloud, complexity and deterministic performance with automated configuration. Expect to learn about those topics and more at Ethernet Alliance’s booth next year!

Author:  Paul Mooney

Biography:  Paul Mooney is the Director of Product Management for Spirent’s Hardware and Software Platforms. He is responsible for the definition, development and support of several lines of test equipment including the flagship Spirent TestCenter.


Paul joined Spirent in 2004 and has managed several generations of Spirent’s hardware and software products. Prior to joining Spirent Paul worked in services development and marketing for Agilent Technologies and Hewlett Packard.