& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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   >   >>
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, July 27, 1:00PM EDT
The Changing Face of the Data Center World
Rodney M. Elder, Senior Solutions Architect, Equinix
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, August 3, 1:00PM EDT
The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, Open Networking Research Center, Open Networking Lab
Wednesday, August 10, 1:00PM EDT
Telcos & Open Source 101
Phil Robb, Senior Technical Director, OpenDaylight
Friday, August 12, 1:00PM EDT
The Role of Open Source in NFV
Jim Fagan, Director, Cloud Practice, Telstra
in association with:
From The Founder
The more things change, the more they stay the same for Juniper's next-gen comms solutions, and that's a good thing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (0) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper Networks & The Evolution of NFV

7|19|16   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Senior Juniper Networks executives talk to Light Reading Founder & CEO Steve Saunders about NFV developments and the recent independent evaluation by test lab EANTC of Juniper's Cloud CPE solution.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink Goes Beyond Managed WiFi

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


CenturyLink's managed WiFi allows enterprises, such as retailers and resorts, to track guest WiFi usage in order to help them better communicate with customers.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T Launches Network Functions on Demand

7|17|16   |   05:26   |   (0) comments


Roman Pacewicz, Senior Vice President, Offer Management & Service Integration, AT&T Business Solutions, discusses the operator's launch of its Network Functions on Demand service.
LRTV Interviews
Enterprise Pitch for Ciscosson

7|14|16   |   04:43   |   (0) comments


After seven months of near silence, Cisco and Ericsson executives publicly discussed details on their extensive partnership. Among the tidbits shared by Martin Zander, VP, group strategy programs, Ericsson, and Doug Webster, VP service provider marketing, Cisco: The partnership was initially launched to serve the service provider market, but is already gaining ...
Wagner’s Ring
Cisco Faces Up to Hypercloud Threat

7|13|16   |   02:42   |   (0) comments


Facebook, Amazon and Google mostly don't buy branded technology for their networks – they build their own. That's a threat to Cisco – and its competitors too – which face potentially dwindling demand for their product. Is Cisco up to the challenge? Light Reading went to the annual Cisco Live conference to find out.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Better Connected Russia

7|13|16   |     |   (0) comments


At UBBS World Tour 2016, Alla Shabelnikova of Ovum shares the findings of a white paper outlining the challenges and opportunities of broadband rollout in Russia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Global Video Business

7|13|16   |     |   (0) comments


At UBBS World Tour 2016, Roger Feng of Huawei shares insights on the future of video business.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
UBBS World Tour Moscow Highlights

7|13|16   |     |   (0) comments


At UBBS World Tour 2016 at Moscow, Huawei showcases its outstanding progress in video technology.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
September 27, 2016, Philadelphia, PA
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
SoftBank Muscles In on ARM in $32B Deal
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/18/2016
Ericsson 'Doubles' Savings Goal as Sales Slump
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/19/2016
Kevin Lo's Move to Facebook: Sign of Things to Come?
Patrick Donegan, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading, 7/20/2016
Verizon's Next With VNFs
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/21/2016
Facebook Gets Its Drone On
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/22/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
I've enjoyed interviewing many interesting people since I rejoined Light Reading, but William A. "Bill" Owens certainly takes the biscuit, as we say where I come from.
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.