Ethernet equipment

NXTcomm Preview: Ethernet & 8-Tbit/s

All eyes might be on the iPhone today, but don't forget: NXTcomm08 is just around the corner.

And with the doors opening June 17 in Las Vegas, the flood of product news linked to the show has begun in earnest.

Quite a few companies are trying to beat the opening day press release surge by announcing their news this week. Not surprisingly, carrier Ethernet and 100-Gbit/s optical transmission feature strongly, making today's news a microcosm of some of next week's likely hot spots.

RADical move
Here's an interesting trick: RAD Data Communications Ltd. is putting its pseudowire capability -- the emulating of a T1 or E1 line on Ethernet -- into a small-form pluggable (SFP) module.

The end result is that carriers can now deploy RAD's pseudowire technology either as a standalone device, something that's long been available, or as a module that can be plugged into another vendor's switch.

It's an option intended for the carriers that need pseudowire links in small numbers, or that don't want to devote the space to another separate appliance, says Eitan Schwaz, VP at RAD's TDM-over-IP division.

RAD is able to do this because the appropriate ASIC happens to be small enough to fit into an SFP module. RAD expects to announce the module, called the MiTOP-E1/T1, during the next week or so.

Separately, RAD will unveil the IPmux-216, a pseudowire gateway aimed at mobile backhaul markets. The device will be targeted at wholesale transport service providers that sell backhaul capacity, rather than at mobile operators directly.

Patrolling Ethernet
Gridpoint Systems Inc. is best known as a control-plane software vendor targeting the emerging carrier Ethernet market, along the lines of Soapstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SOAP), but the company has a traffic management bent, too.

Gridpoint is launching a 10-Gbit/s traffic management box, the Gridpoint 3400, to sit at the outer boundary of the metro network -- the point where a connection would begin to fan out to individual subscribers.

A hardware launch has been in the startup's plans from the beginning. "You now have to deal with managing the traffic, not just the network layer," CEO Jim Arsenault says.

The company describes the 3400 as an Intelligent Carrier Ethernet Node. It's unclear whether that name will be turned into YAIA (Yet Another Industry Acronym). Part of its job is to check whether a connection has available capacity for a given service, and if not, to find an alternate path through the network.

It's all done in the name of determinism. Gridpoint -- like probably most other other Ethernet-related vendors at NXTcomm -- is out to give carriers the ability to support service-level agreements (SLAs) on Ethernet networks.

A 40-Gbit/s cousin to the 3400, aimed more at aggregation networks, is in the works, Arsenault says.

The 8-Tbit/s race
As of today, Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) is saying it's got capabilities to put 8 Tbit/s of traffic on each fiber, something OpVista Inc. will likewise be touting at NXTcomm.

OpVista's news came out earlier this month, when the company announced the technology behind its next-generation optical system, the CX-8. (See OpVista Runs With DMC for 40-Gig.)

Today, the CX-8 will be official unveiled. Most of the critical information was already out, such as OpVista's claim that it can put 100-Gbit/s feeds onto 10-Gbit/s fiber infrastructure. The company won't have 100-Gbit/s transponders out until next year, but once that happens, the CX-8 will do 80 wavelengths that can total 8 Tbit/s of traffic per fiber.

OpVista separately announced a 40-Gbit/s transponder in May and says it expects to demonstrate that at NXTcomm, working with "probably a big router vendor," according to director of marketing Andres Viera.

Infinera, meanwhile, is saying it, too, can eventually support up to 80 channels of 100 Gbit/s each, using the ILS2 optical line system that's being announced today.

A more interesting feature of the ILS2, though, is the ability to work at 25 GHz spacing -- meaning it can split the C-band into 160 DWDM channels as opposed to 80 for most other high-end systems. Infinera's release talks about 25 GHz only for 10- and 40-Gbit/s channels, not 100 Gbit/s.

The ILS2 also allows for transmission distances of 2,500 kilometers. All this is made possible by a couple of Infinera deals: the licensing of Raman amplification that originated at Corvis; and the acquisition of Little Optics, with its passive photonic integrated circuit technology and its Maryland-based fab. (See Infinera Gets Corvis (Sort Of) and Infinera Acquires Little.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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