JDSU's Ready for Gridless ROADMs
JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) is sampling components for gridless reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADMs), officials said during Wednesday's earnings call.
It's a new line of Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS) called TrueFlex. The devices have just started sampling and should be ready for production shipments later this year, executives said.
JDSU already sells WSSs based on micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) Mirrors, but TrueFlex is built from liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS). The wavelength assignments on an LCoS WSS can be reassigned in software, making it a good option for flexible-grid ROADMs. Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR) already has LCoS-based WSSs and had been touting flexible-grid capabilities since at least 2010.
JDSU says TrueFlex WSSs will be available in sizes of 1x9 and smaller for metro networks and in larger sizes for core networks.
Why this matters
TrueFlex is a bit of marketing catch-up for JDSU, as Finisar has really run with the idea.
Flexible-grid ROADMs could come in handy if, as many believe, 400Gbit/s and 1Tbit/s signals won't initially fit in a 50GHz space. Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) has a 1Tbit/s protoype that uses 200GHz of optical spectrum, for instance, and Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) has talked about similar experiments.
There's one catch: "The performance of the ROADMs that have the flexible capabilities are typically not as good as the MEMS-based ROADMs," says Andrew Schmitt, an analyst with Infonetics Research Inc.
Considering that a ROADM is likely to sit in a carrier network 10 years or more, that creates a trade-off -- is grid flexibility more important than performance? Schmitt says he's talked to one major equipment manufacturer that's not planning to use gridless ROADMs for at least a few years.
Then again, the need for gridlessness does appear to exist, and it's an area JDSU couldn't ignore. "I will say there are benefits to both approaches, and Finisar's got an excellent product," Schmitt says. "Finisar's done an excellent job marketing -- talking to carriers and getting the market to see this as a requirement."
Catch up on the new generation of ROADMs.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading