Amphenol is one of the largest manufacturers of interconnect products in the world. The Company designs, manufactures and markets electrical, electronic and fiber optic connectors, coaxial and flat-ribbon cable, and interconnect systems for the industrial, automotive, mobile, IT & datacom, and broadband markets. We met with Amphenol Technologist Zhineng Fan to discuss Amphenol’s role in the Gen-Z Consortium™.
Why did Amphenol decide to join the Gen-Z Consortium?
When we first heard about Gen-Z from HPE, we were excited about Gen-Z technology. As a new leading-edge technology that is transforming the industry for high-performance computing, Gen-Z provides the industry with many new opportunities. We were excited to bring the technology and its benefits to our customers and partners. We were on board the moment we learned about Gen-Z technology.
What are some of Amphenol’s goals as a member of the Gen-Z Consortium?
Amphenol is one of the biggest connector technology companies worldwide. We provide high-speed connector solutions to many customers in the industry. When we learned Gen-Z needed a new interconnect technology, we were inspired and keen to use our expertise in interconnect solutions to contribute to the Gen-Z Consortium.
Cable and connector solutions are an integral part of key Gen-Z standard specifications. By joining as a vendor, one of our goals is to help build the ecosystem. We coordinate with our peers and customers to enable and speed up the industry adoption of Gen-Z technology.
Can you describe a typical day working with Gen-Z technology?
As a bridge between our internal team and the Gen-Z Consortium, I attend workgroup meetings — the Mechanical Workgroup, Proof of Concept (PoC) Workgroup, and the PHY Workgroup. If Gen-Z has a new development, I collaborate with the internal team to evaluate, understand, and study the development. I will also share our team’s inputs and proposal with the committee.
In the PoC Workgroup, Amphenol supported SMART Modular, HPE and Dell EMC on the Micro Development Kit (µDK). The Gen-Z µDK is a standalone hardware platform, which includes all necessary hardware and software components required to test and develop the ecosystem around the Gen-Z protocol. We built the backplane assembly and provided cable solutions necessary for µDK. The PoC products are demonstrated at various tech shows, like Flash Memory Summit and Supercomputing.
I am also involved in communicating with customers about Gen Z technology. Amphenol provides a range of Gen-Z cable and connector solutions. I work with our field team to address Gen-Z related questions and make recommendations to pick best-fit products for our customers.
What Gen-Z technology solutions are available from Amphenol?
We developed the full family of Gen-Z connector/cable specifications, according to SNIA SFF-TA-1002 and SFF-TA-1020. The connector comes with 1C, 2C, 4C and 4C+ pin configuration and vertical, SMT, straddle and orthogonal mounting orientations. We also offer a 280-pin vertical connector, which is wide enough to accommodate 3×16 high-speed lanes, and a high-power version PECFF 4C-HP connector, which can pass up to 1000W. On the cable side, we offer 1C, 2C and 4C configurations, with combination choice of right angle and vertical receptacle to straight and right angle exit. Besides the Gen Z/SFF standard configurations, we also have flexibility to tweak the product to exactly fit customer needs.
Why are open standards like Gen-Z important for the industry?
Open standards are a really good way to enable technology and build its ecosystem. When it is open, more people can participate and contribute ideas and accelerate the technology adoption.
What do you feel is Gen-Z’s impact on the industry?
Gen-Z has made a significant impact in the industry. I interact with many customers and they often ask for Gen-Z solutions. I am seeing acceleration and an increasing adoption of Gen-Z connectors and cables by the whole industry.
In addition to Gen-Z Consortium standard application, the high-performance Gen-Z connector is gaining traction and market adoption in other open-standard specifications where high bit rates and low-loss characteristics are required. Besides the standard usage, a lot of customers use the Gen-Z connector for customized board-to-board applications, and use the cable for the internal system link.