Light Reading

Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
3/11/2013
50%
50%

Core router startups have been a rare breed since the glory days of Procket and Avici, but now a new one has emerged: Compass-EOS is hoping to move the needle (geddit?) by using on-chip photonics to produce a more compact system.

"We believe current technologies have reached a plateau. Everybody understands that. When you're talking about the petabit age, everybody will be using such technologies," says Asaf Somekh, Compass-EOS's vice president of marketing.

The router in question, the r10004, is being announced for the first time on Tuesday. It's an 800Gbit/s router (1.6Tbit/s, if you count both input and output traffic), shipping with only two types of line cards so far: with two ports of 100 Gbit/s or 20 ports of 10 Gbit/s.

The routers have been shipping since late 2012, and Somekh was carrying a sample of the company's pride-and-joy ASIC, based on a technology named icPhotonics, at Mobile World Congress last week.


Asaf Somekh, taking an outdoors break at Mobile World Congress.

What's particularly interesting is that Compass-EOS's router is already running live traffic, which means the startup has gotten further than many of the core-router startups of the early 2000s. (See The Core Was Rotten for Startups.)

It's being used by a U.S. cable operator at the junction between the cable network and a content delivery network (CDN), Somekh says.

That's not a core core job, but it's where a startup has to, well, start before it can win the hearts of service providers. Early target markets will be Internet peering points and some aggregation networks, Somekh says.

Getting to the core
The company's founder and president, Michael Laor, worked at a Cisco Systems Inc. R&D center in Israel in 2004 when he decided to pursue a more compact architecture for a core router. This was the time when Cisco was releasing the CRS-1, formerly called the "huge effin' router" internally -- a full-rack beast that Cisco bragged could be linked in a group of 72.

Laor realized his ideas for radicalizing the router would never fly at Cisco, Somekh says, so he left the company to build a next-generation router with his own outfit.

It's already part of Compass-EOS folklore that Laor failed four times, primarily due to the limitations of the electronics. High-speed signals can only travel so far on a circuit board, and pushing the distance limits means generating more heat. The numbers weren't adding up.

Laor decided to pursue on-chip optics after teaming up with Michael Mesh, who had participated in the optical bubble as a member of PacketLight Networks. (You can see him quoted in this DWDM report from 2000.) They formed Compass-EOS in 2006, and Mesh is still with the company as chief scientist.

The icPhotonics chip is built around a matrix of 168 VCSELs -- each capable of transmitting at 8 Gbit/s for a total theoretical limit of 1.3 Tbit/s -- and a corresponding bank of photodiodes. Compass-EOS says it uses silicon photonics inside the chip, as well as some proprietary and not-so-easily-invented techniques that allow the VCSELs to sit properly above the rest of the chip.

Inside the r10004, there's no midplane, no backplane and no switch fabric. Line cards are connected by the optical interconnect into a full mesh.

That not only shrinks the router and lowers its power requirements -- Compass-EOS claims the r10004 is one-third the size of a comparable core router -- but also simplifies the router. Compass-EOS claims it's simpler to do multichassis routing, for example.

Core routers from Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. can connect multiple boxes to act as one router. But to do it for more than two routers takes an additional box, a rack that serves solely as a cross-connect.

Compass-EOS claims it can eliminate that step and just keep throwing routers at the problem, so to speak. Each router treats neighboring Compass-EOS routers as if they were its own line cards.

There's a distance limitation, of course: about 200 meters. That's still long enough that two routers, working in conjunction, can be on different floors of a building. (There's at least one prospective customer that's apparently keen on that, judging by what Somekh says.)

Compass-EOS is bulked-up like a router company. It's got more than 150 employees and has raised more than US$120 million since 2006, from investors including Comcast Ventures, T-Venture (an arm of Deutsche Telekom AG) and even Cisco.

Its venture investors include Pitango Venture Capital, Benchmark Capital, North Bridge Venture Partners and Crescent Point Lantern.

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(24)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
hoytaxtontrio
50%
50%
hoytaxtontrio,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/15/2013 | 6:00:11 PM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
-áSeems like 8 nested replies is the limit.-á No more reply option
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2013 | 3:38:00 PM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
Yes -- it looks like Disqus can go only to 10 levels of responses before it collapses from exhaustion. Nigel Tufnel would not be pleased.
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2013 | 3:11:30 PM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
So, I lost the reply button on hoyt's post....anyone else?

seven
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2013 | 2:07:51 PM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
The rules have changed. The zebras are now being painted orange, with the assumption that they will grow longer necks and their stripes will turn to spots. We've pretty much done away with "journals" anyway.
Craig Matsumoto
50%
50%
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2013 | 2:05:38 PM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
-áI see what you're saying, but i actually find it a good way to point out secondary information. Or to highlight something in the story without interrupting the main points. You also have to take into account the fact that many of us editors just don't know when to shut up. :)
desiEngineer
50%
50%
desiEngineer,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/14/2013 | 12:33:19 AM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
There should be a rule that the first post can't be from an LR editor because if they have those comments, why not fix the article in the first place? -áThe journalistic equivalent of code reviews, peut-etre?
desiEngineer
50%
50%
desiEngineer,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/14/2013 | 12:27:52 AM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
<end></end>
hoytaxtontrio
50%
50%
hoytaxtontrio,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/13/2013 | 10:27:12 PM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
-áFinally, something really meaningful to do.-á Can it go to one character width.
Garci
50%
50%
Garci,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/13/2013 | 7:49:19 PM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
To be honest, the whole DDOS part is bogus. ALU's boxes have done overall (central) Control Plane rate limiting since day 1. And no operator is under-utilizing the network due to COPP or similar mechanisms. Also, unless its cooled back-to-front, I find it hard to believe the presented chassis would be NEBS compliant, as I don't see how they can put replaceable air filters in there. Finally, as mentioned, the density is nothing spectacular either. 200G per slot is nothing new.
Garci
50%
50%
Garci,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/13/2013 | 7:44:15 PM
re: Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup
Lets make this even narrower. It becomes un-readable.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
FCC Adopts Title II Rules
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.