Comms chips

100G Watch: Another DWDM Contender

There's been some interesting chip activity in 100Gbit/s lately, but this edition of 100G Watch is headlined by a systems-level longshot. Who did you think would be the third company to announce a 100Gbit/s DWDM system compliant with the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) framework?

  • Apparently, it's MRV Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: MRVC). The company made its announcement Thursday morning, and details -- such as what the thing costs and how much of it was internally developed -- are scarce so far. "At this point I don't know what to make of it, other than they seem to have come out with 100Gbit/s out of nowhere," writes Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin in an email.

    MRV would join Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) as the only vendors shipping 100Gbit/s DWDM. Ciena (technically Nortel) was first, but Perrin says his hunch is that AlcaLu has now shipped more 100Gbit/s -- though not all of it to revenue-generating customers.

    MRV also announced it's secured Amsterdam Internet Exchange B.V. (AMS-IX) as a 100Gbit/s customer.

  • EZchip Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: EZCH) announced its NP-5 network processor in April but didn't disclose details until Wednesday, at the Linley Tech Carrier Conference, the latest semiconductor technology gathering hosted by The Linley Group . (See EZchip Goes 200 Gig.)

    The NP-5 is a 200Gbit/s network processor, meaning it's capable of handling a full 100 Gbit/s in one direction. That's a doubling of the throughput of the NP-4, meaning equipment vendors can build 100Gbit/s line cards using fewer chips.

    The NP-5 also uses fewer types of memory chips. For the last couple of chip generations, EZchip has worked at moving more functions into inexpensive DRAMs; pretty much everything is there now except for a few items, such as access control lists, that still sit in not-so-inexpensive ternary content-addressable memories (TCAMs).

  • EZchip's primary competitor in network processors still seems to be Xelerated Inc. There's also Bay Microsystems Inc. , which has moved largely into military work.

    Mostly, all these chip vendors still compete against equipment vendors' own ASICs, and while EZchip has gotten designs into Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), the trend isn't stopping. As one industry executive at the Linley Group conference pointed out, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has hired Bill Lynch, a network processor expert who helped found long-ago router startup Procket. (See New Kid on the Cisco/Juniper Block, Procket Gets Cisco Exec and Cisco to Pay $89M for Procket Assets.)

    That doesn't mean Lynch is going to build a network processor. (His group presented a memory architecture at last year's Hot Chips conference.) But you have to admit, the possibilities are interesting.

  • Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (Nasdaq: AMCC) recently introduced a gearbox chip, a key component that translates electrical signals between 10Gbit/s and 28Gbit/s lanes (using 10 of the former and four of the latter, to add up to 100Gbit/s plus overhead). It's claiming to have the first single-chip gearbox in CMOS. (See AppliedMicro Intros 100G Gearbox.)

    Its main competition so far is Semtech Corp. (Nasdaq: SMTC), which announced its gearbox in March.

    Other recent 100Gbit/s developments and discussion:

    — Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

  • Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:02:31 PM
    re: 100G Watch: Another DWDM Contender

    Forgot to mention -- Dave Stehlin, former CEO of Overture Networks, is now MRV's senior VP in charge of optical.

    mplape 12/5/2012 | 5:02:28 PM
    re: 100G Watch: Another DWDM Contender

    The part about MRV "shipping" 100Gbps DP-QPSK equipement is remarkable because the press release starts out with the word "plan":  The title of the press release is as follows:

     MRV Unveils Plans for 100Gbps Solution to Power Networks for Data Center, Mobility and Cloud Applications

    Nowhere in the press release does it say they are "shipping", but this LR article says they are one of three vendors shipping?

    Sterling Perrin 12/5/2012 | 5:02:27 PM
    re: 100G Watch: Another DWDM Contender


    This is a fair point as MRV is not generating revenue yet from 100G. However, they did tell me that their 100G is available now and the release announces their 1st customer.


    digits 12/5/2012 | 5:02:26 PM
    re: 100G Watch: Another DWDM Contender

    <h1 class="blue header biggest" style="font-size: 24px; color: #004276; line-height: 27px; letter-spacing: normal; font-weight: bold; text-decoration: none; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border: 0px initial initial;">ADVA in for the Long Haul With 100G</h1>



    I take it that, should ADVA get to market in Q3 as planned, it will be the fourth member of the gang?

    Sterling Perrin 12/5/2012 | 5:02:24 PM
    re: 100G Watch: Another DWDM Contender


    I think a couple of companies are promising to get 100G out the door around Q3, so the race is on!


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