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What is the difference between PSM4 and CWDM?
Knowledge Base + 2024.01.10

PSM4 (Parallel Single-Mode 4) and CWDM (Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing) are both optical communication technologies used in data center and networking environments, but they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics. Here are the key differences between PSM4 and CWDM: 

  1. Wavelengths:

    • PSM4: PSM4 uses four parallel single-mode fibers, each operating at a different wavelength, typically around 1310 nm. The four wavelengths are typically closely spaced, and each fiber carries a separate data channel.

    • CWDM: CWDM uses multiple wavelengths (typically in the range of 1270 nm to 1610 nm) to multiplex several data channels onto a single fiber. CWDM can support various channel configurations, such as 4, 8, 16, or more wavelengths.

  2. Fiber Count:

    • PSM4: Utilizes four single-mode fibers for the four parallel channels.

    • CWDM: Multiplexes multiple channels onto a single fiber, reducing the overall fiber count compared to PSM4.

  3. Channel Spacing:

    • PSM4: The wavelengths in PSM4 are closely spaced, as they operate on separate parallel fibers.

    • CWDM: The wavelengths in CWDM are typically more widely spaced, allowing for easier multiplexing and demultiplexing.

  4. Distance and Application:

    • PSM4: PSM4 is often used for short-reach connections within data centers, typically up to a few hundred meters. It is commonly used for high-speed interconnects within the data center.

    • CWDM: CWDM is used for both short and long-reach connections, depending on the specific wavelength and the application. It is suitable for applications ranging from data center interconnects to metro and access networks.

  5. Equipment Complexity:

    • PSM4: PSM4 transceivers are designed for parallel optics, and the technology involves coordinating four separate channels. This can impact the complexity of the transceiver and the associated equipment.

    • CWDM: CWDM equipment is designed to work with multiple wavelengths on a single fiber. The technology is often considered simpler than PSM4 in terms of equipment complexity.

In summary, PSM4 and CWDM are optical technologies with different architectures. PSM4 is specifically designed for short-reach, high-speed connections within data centers, while CWDM is a more versatile technology used for both short and long-reach connections, including applications beyond the data center environment. The choice between PSM4 and CWDM depends on the specific requirements of the network and the intended use case.