Optical/IP Networks

Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale

Optical Ethernet startup Atrica Inc. plans at the upcoming Supercomm trade show to demo a switch for metropolitan networks that combines optical networking technologies with Ethernet and supports data rates as high as 100 Gbit/s.

Yes, there's a catch: Companies that make high-speed lasers for optical networks are struggling to get 10-gig lasers to market, and none offers speeds higher than that. That means 100-Gbit/s in a single channel isn't possible, because such components don't yet exist.

In order to achieve 100-Gbit/s in its A-8800 switch, Atrica's had to glom together multiple 10-Gbit/s lasers. For the Supercomm demo, in early June, it plans to put ten 10-Gbit/s lasers in parallel in order to achieve the promised data rate.

Atrica just released its first products into general shipment last month (see Atrica Keeps It Simple ). Company officials say that regardless of the limitations on speed in individual channels, the product will present economic benefits by switching gigbabit Ethernet channels at the optical layer.

"We are not just putting Ethernet and optical networking side by side in one box," says David Yates, vice president of marketing. "We have fully integrated the two. We go straight from Ethernet to the optical switching fabric, without requiring an OEO [optical-electrical-optical] conversion."

And that, he says, will help carriers save one-half to two-thirds on networking costs. At present, he notes, carriers who wish to offer their customers high-speed Ethernet access must link together a chain of metro Sonet rings, DWDM gear, and then Ethernet switches. The result is that carriers need to maintain lots of equipment in distinct, interconnected networks at the metro core.

With the new A-8800, Yates says, carriers will have just one metro network, capable of supporting Sonet at all rates as well as Ethernet at gigabit speeds. What's more, the box will serve to aggregate leased lines at T1 or T3 (1.544 Mbit/s or 45 Mbit/s) onto higher-speed Ethernet and Sonet links.

Atrica's switch will feature a capacity of 1.2 Tbit/s and be capable of transmitting 100-Gbit/s Ethernet over three wavelengths, or 10-Gbit/s over 33 wavelengths, using wavelength-division multiplexing. The unit will support "subsecond protection" for networks with ring and mesh topologies. MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) will be used for provisioning, traffic engineering, and service-level agreement (SLA) monitoring.

Yates says this approach has been proven out by makers of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet gear, which have used four 2.5-Gbit/s lasers together in order to get the desired speed. "We'll use stronger lasers as soon as they become available."

According to spokespeople, several of Atrica's carrier backers, including France Telecom SA and Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), will be putting the A-8800 in their labs this year, followed by trials.

Atrica's plan has left analysts scratching their heads in a combination of awe and disbelief. "They're doing some very interesting things, and they've generated a lot of interest from carriers, if not revenues," says Dave Dunphy, senior analyst at Current Analysis. "But it's really early. It's a very groundbreaking claim, but we'll have to see if it works as promised in live demonstrations, that's all."

-- Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
gea 12/4/2012 | 8:26:11 PM
re: Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale You guys were a little too sketchy on the technical details. Is this Optical Time Division multiplexing? If so, then this may be the first volley in a forthcoming technological wave, rather than "gloming lasers together". (Prucnal, et al at Princeton have been working on very high speed OTDM for a while, and the possibilities are interesting).
Any chance you guys could clear this up for us?
Physical_Layer 12/4/2012 | 8:26:10 PM
re: Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale To respond to the first poster, this sounds more like POI (parallel optical interconnect). In the future, this could be done cheaply with 10G VCSEL lasers, MTP interconnect, and an integrated package conforming to a MSA fit/form/function.

StartUpGuy1 12/4/2012 | 8:26:07 PM
re: Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale This could be done with the same technology that Gigabit trunking is done with today. Just combine the channels and load balance across them. Cisco, Foundry, Extreme, ect. all do between 4 and 8 gig channels today in that fashion. Going to 10Gig channels is not a big stretch for this technology.. rememeber, trunking went from 100Mb pipes to Gig Pipes. An 10 time increase. Just as 10 Gig is 10 times Gig E.
Physical_Layer 12/4/2012 | 8:25:54 PM
re: Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale "What MSA are you referring to?"

I'm not referring to anything specific. Just a comment so suggest that eventually this could be governed by an MSA. Same as for SM/MM transceivers (1x9, 2x9, and SFF 1x10, 2x10), same as for some of the POI modules, same as for transponders (200 pin, 300 pin), etc.
litreb 12/4/2012 | 8:25:54 PM
re: Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale What MSA are you referring to?
[email protected] 12/4/2012 | 8:21:33 PM
re: Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale It isn't link agg. across multiple facilities. Think of one fiber. 10 lambdas of 10Gig Ethernet each.
stack-man 12/4/2012 | 8:16:51 PM
re: Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale Are they planning to displace existing SONET gear in the metro ring or are they hoping to get all future metro fiber deployments? It seems to me that no one will shell out for the former. For the latter, price is sometimes not compelling enough to change how business is done. With the utilization rates of fiber being so low, it seems like bigger fiber boxes are going to have a tough road ahead.
D&K 12/4/2012 | 8:04:23 PM
re: Atrica Tells a Tall 100-Gbit/s Tale Looks to me like they intend to displace it.

Imagine removing the GSR, CSU, COT, SONET ring, the RT, CSU, router and hub from the equation.

Then imagine removing the CMTS, HFC, ONU, and tap from the link from ISP to end user.

Imagine an optical ethernet feed through a couple of switches to your home PC.

Sounds cheap and easy doesn't it?
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