Cisco Invests in Transceiver Startup

A Swedish developer of 10-gigabit Ethernet transceivers -- Optillion -- got a big boost yesterday when it announced a $53 million round of financing, part of which came from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) (see Optillion Closes $53M Round).

Cisco’s interest in Optillion suggests that the startup has an edge over others developing similar components. The edge boils down to offering a particularly compact transceiver with low power consumption, according to Optillion’s CEO, Patrik Evaldsson.

”We’ve focused very strongly on the way we bring the electronics and optics together,” Evaldsson says. Optillion’s transceivers incorporate Ethernet functionality not included in competing products, he says. At the same time, Optillion’s transceiver are built from fewer modules, and are thus smaller, he adds.

The size advantage comes from carrying Ethernet traffic in a single 10-gigabit channel over fiber, rather than carrying it as four 2.5-gigabit channels, as early 10-gigabit transceivers have done (see A Tall Tale of 10-Gig ). Having four channels requires four times as many transponders and also requires some coarse wavelength-division multiplexing technology to do all the splitting and recombining of signals.

Optillion is making its own optics to deliver 10-gigabit Ethernet over a single channel, and Evaldsson says the architecture of the device is optimized for transmission distances of between 10 and 40 kilometers, such as those required for metro applications.

Evaldsson says the transceiver has been designed from the ground up for automated manufacturing -- which probably equates to low costs and an ability to ramp up production quickly to meet demand. First samples are planned for the third quarter of next year.

-- Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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