A close look at the evolution of network traffic across multiple market segments and of associated data processing, storage, and communication technologies over the past 10+ years reveals some very clear long-term trends, independent of short-term application hypes. These consistent trends inform our projections of network traffic and of information and communication technologies into the coming 10+ years. Most importantly, increasingly pronounced scaling disparities between demand and supply in wide-area data communications leaves our industry no other option than introducing massively integrated parallelism to implement the 10+ Terabit/s transponders working over Petabit/s systems that will be required well within 10 years. This major next step in the evolution of optical communication systems is likely to ultimately yield opto-electronic processing engines that combine large arrays of client and line interfaces with sophisticated coherent digital signal processing in a common package (fiber-in/fiber-out), taking full advantage of new holistic co-designs.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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