Dozens of new products were launched at the OFC exhibition this week. Here's the most memorable ones.

March 9, 2000

5 Min Read
What's Hot At The OFC

BALTIMORE, MD: Some people will remember this week's Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) show for the invasion of wharf rats and bewildered looking analysts from investment banks. Everybody, however, will also recall seeing some memorable developments in optical networking.

Which ones stand out?

At Light Reading, we think Agilent Technologies Inc. stole the show, with its announcement of a totally new type of optical switching technology, based on ink-jet bubbles. See Agilent Unveils Optical Switching Breakthrough.

We also think Xros, Inc. deserves a special mention for its 1,152 port all-optical cross-connect. See Xros Launches First 1000-Port All Optical Cross Connect.

But a team of experts assembled by the OFC organizers reviewed dozens of other new product announcements at the show and gave awards to 10 of them. Unfortunately, nobody explained why certain products won, so Light Reading has come to the rescue with its own analysis, in the following list of OFC 2000 New Product Award winners.

First OC-192 Interface For An Intelligent Optical Switch

Vendor: Ciena Corp.
Product: Multiwave Coredirector

Having the first OC-192 (10 Gbit/s) Sonet interface for gear that can automatically provision wavelengths is a big deal. It helps carriers cope with soaring traffic volumes on their backbones. It also extends the ability of Ciena's existing switch to reduce costs by eliminating requirements for muxes and cross-connects.

Whether Ciena really will be first to market with OC-192 capabilities remains to be seen. It demonstrated the new card at OFC but it won't ship until the third quarter of this year.

An Amp That'll Slash Costs On Cable Networks

Vendor: SDL, Inc.
Product: FM30-8 Cladding Pumped Fiber Amplifier

This device boosts optical signals in as many as eight fibers at once, eliminating the need to install separate erbium doped amplifiers on each fiber. It's designed for use in cable networks using DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing). It provides up to 100 milliwatts of output power per fiber - enabling operators to extend the reach of their networks without having to regenerate signals electrically.

A Subsystem That'll Shorten Time to Develop Transmission Equipment

Vendor: Lucent Technologies' Microelectronics Group
Product: C489 Long Haul Transmitter

This is an off-the-shelf subsystem that helps vendors shorten the time to develop new long haul transmission equipment. Normally, they'd have to buy separate devices such as tunable lasers, modulators, drivers, taps and lockers, and then design a system and develop firmware to make them all work together. With Lucent's C489, all of this comes ready-assembled in a single box. This not only saves development effort, it also makes the production process easier because there's less suppliers and parts to manage.

An Analyzer That Raises The Bar on DWDM Monitoring

Vendor:GN Nettest Inc.
Product: CMA4791 Optical Channel Analyzer

GN Nettest says that its latest analyzer will keep carriers ahead of the curve on DWDM developments. How? By enabling them to distinguish between as many as 256 wavelengths in a single fiber - twice as many as the competition. The CMA4791 is also less likely to lose track of the wavelength it's monitoring over time, according to the vendor. How does GN Nettest do it? By basing its analyzer on a tunable filter rather than diffraction grating, according to John A. Marsh, the vendor's director of product marketing.

A New Type Of Device For Extending The Range of DWDM Systems

Vendor: Corning Inc's Photonic Technologies Division
Product: Purepath Dynamic Spectral Equalizer

This device promises to extend the reach of DWDM systems considerably, by providing a simple, low cost way of correcting irregularities and boosting power across all of wavelengths. In particular, it corrects for so called ripple effects, where different color wavelengths suffer varying amounts of attenuation (power loss).

Up until now, correcting this has been an expensive process. Light had to be de-multiplexed and then a separate device was needed to adjust the power of each wavelength. All of this can now be replaced with Corning's Equalizer. It uses liquid crystal technology to correct and amplify the signals on all wavelengths at the same time. Right now, it can do this for 40 channels at 100 GHz spacing. An 80 channel model is in the pipeline.

The First 1000 Port Optical Cross Connect

Vendor: Xros Inc.
Product: X-1000

This is the first optical cross-connect to break the 1,000 port barrier, and it's the first really large scale use of micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) technology, arrays of tiny tilting mirrors. See Xros Launches First 1000-Port All Optical Cross Connect.

The First Low Cost 10 Gbit/s Transceiver

Vendor: New Focus, Inc.
Product: 10 Gbit/s VCSEL-based transceiver

This is the first 10 Gbit/s transceiver to be built for low cost, short haul applications, such as running OC-192 connections between equipment within a carrier's central office. Its arrival might also speed up the development of 10 Gbit/s Ethernet developments.

The First PMD Analyzer

Vendor: Profile Inc.http:///
Product: DWDM/PMD Monitor

This is the first analyzer that's capable of measuring polarization mode dispersion (PMD), one of a number of effects that cause light signals to become unreadable when they've traveled long distances. In the case of PMD, differently polarized light travels at slightly different speeds resulting in the signal breaking into two, then four, then eight and so on.

Profile's device will be incorporated into other vendor's net management systems. It won't be sold as a stand-alone analyzer.

A Better Way of Extending Transmission Distances

Vendor: Avanex Inc
Product: Powershaoer Dispersion Compensation Processor

This device pushes the envelope on correcting for dispersion (the smudging of signals over long distances) in two ways. First, it can be used over a wide range of wavelengths, so a single unit replaces several fixed wavelength compensators. Second, it enables carriers to correct for dispersion in different ways - by setting a figure, making adjustments to get the best results, or using continuous feedback to automate the process.

Low Cost, High Performance Tunable Laser

Vendor:Coretek Inc.

This laser can be tuned to a particularly wide range of wavelengths (from 1530 to 1600 nanometers) and yet is based on low cost VCSEL (vertical cavity surface emitting laser) technology). It's hard to say whether that will translate into a real bargain because Coretek won't give prices.

-- by Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading

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