One of the biggest criticisms competitors have leveled at Infinera over the years is its insistence on 500Gbit/s PICs, a strategy that seemed to eschew granularity for sheer massiveness of bandwidth (never mind that 500G doesn't seem all that massive anymore).
Well, the critics can find something new to harp on because Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) this week announced two new "sliceable" PICs that aim to offer network operators the bandwidth granularity and flexibility that will be particularly important in the fast-emerging metro 100G market. (See Infinera Intros Two New PICs.)
"In the long haul, the requirement is to have the most bandwidth available to you," says Pravin Mahajan, director of corporate marketing at Infinera. "In the metro, the needs are more granular, but you don't want to lose the ability to scale the bandwidth. You want to harness it for multi-directional needs."
The ePIC-500 and the application-optimized oPIC-100 would be used in hub-and-spoke configurations, and allow the 500G super-channels Infinera is famous for to be sliced into 100G increments for specific uses. The benefits that result from more sliceable PICs include fewer line cards needed to support 100G and 200G pipes, and in turn lower power consumption. Mahajan says that an Infinera system using the sliceable PICs showed an estimated average reduction of 28 percent in modules and 31 percent in power versus conventional technologies that deliver 100G, 200G or 400G super-channels that can only be received at one destination.
However, the new PICs are not going into current Infinera platforms, like the DTN-X or Cloud Xpress, which is targeted at data center interconnection. Mahajan and other Infinera officials are being coy for now, but the new PICs are likely to debut later this year in new products Infinera is widely believed to be developing for the metro aggregation market.
Infinera says it wasn't forced into a sliceable strategy by recent competitor moves to support 200G, but rather by the unique needs of the metro aggregation market. That is pretty much a greenfield market for Infinera equipment, as well as the consolidation of the tradition seven-layer network model into two layers -- the cloud services layer (Layer C) and the transport layer (Layer T). "What Layer C needs from Layer T are converged packet-optical systems that offer flexible, granular capacity control," Mahajan says.
But the move to sliceable bandwidth does not mean that Infinera has decided to start thinking small after all these years. "The future is a sliceable terabit," Mahajan says. Have at that, 400G fans.
— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading