Who Makes What: 40- & 100-Gbit/s Systems

Light Reading
Light Reading

Light Reading was founded for technologies like 40- and 100-Gbit/s (hereafter 40/100G) systems – cutting-edge optical network kit, oodles of gung-ho vendors of all shapes and sizes, arcane technological disputes, and the promises of billions of bucks just over the horizon (and for the X-rated stuff, see Contentinople).

40/100G transmission embraces a range of technologies and has potentially wide applications – from transoceanic networks, through the metro, and on into equipment backplanes – so its long-term impact is likely to be considerable and widespread. For this Who Makes What, however, the main interest is taken to be telecom network transport applications, which means essentially:

  • 40G Sonet/SDH (OC768/STM256) and the higher-rate ITU-T OTNs (OTU3/OTU4)
  • Longer-range versions of 40 and 100G Ethernet.
For more on 40/100G in equipment practice, especially ATCA, etc., see 40- & 100-Gbit/s Technology & Components.

The list of operators and carriers now moving to, or with, some 40G implementations now contains some big names (see Table 1 for some recent examples reported by Light Reading), although not everyone is convinced by the 40G argument (see Page 4: Sticky Questions). In contrast, 100G is still largely experimental or trialing, but implementations are vaguely beginning, as witnessed by financial exchange NYSE Euronext and Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) announcing, in March 2009, plans to implement 100G networks to support NYSE Euronext’s new data centers in the greater New York and London metropolitan areas during 2010.

Table 1: Recent 40G Network Implementations Reported by Light Reading
Carrier/operator Location/date Implementation
AboveNet USa/May 2009 40G metro service in 15 US markets
Bell Canada Canada/September 2008 40G optical backbone network
China Telecom China/August 2008 40G transmission network
China Unicom China/December 2008 40G WDM transport network
Deutsche Telekom Germany/July 2008 40G DWDM core network
KPN Belgium/September 2008 40G upgrade to optical backbone network
Lightower Fiber Networks USA/ June 2009 40G bandwidth service for carriers and large enterprises
Mediacom Communications USA/December 2008 40G upgrade to regional network supporting triple-play services
Neos UK/March 2008 40G network for delivery of bandwidth-on-demand for UK businesses
Rascom Russia/July 2008 40G upgrade to long-haul optical network
RoEduNet Educational Network Romania/November 2008 40G-ready network linking national educational and research facilities
Southern Cross Cables USA/June 2008 40G upgrade to 10G terrestrial feeder to transpacific cable network
Sprint Nextel USA/November 2008 40G transatlantic transmission trial
SURF Telecoms UK/December 2008 40G upgrade to regional optical data network
Telef�nica Spain/November 2008 40G transmission network
Telus Canada/December 2008 40G network upgrade
TransTeleCom Russia/May 2008 40G commercial transport network connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg
Triton Telecom Caribbean/October 2008 40G system linking Florida, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica
Virgin Media UK/May 2008 Lights 40G path
Source: Light Reading, 2009

40G is also hitting the data center. In late 2008, for example, Mellanox Technologies and Dell claimed the world’s first demonstration of 40G InfiniBand interconnect technology for blade servers by using Mellanox’s recently launched InfiniBand ConnectX Adapter.

The combination of hi-tech R&D, many smaller specialist companies, market evolution, and a global recession must make 40/100G one of the few current bright spots for M&A types, judging by the number of mergers, acquisitions, and similar announcements made over the last year or so. Examples are:

  • Aegis Lightwave Inc. acquired CardinalPoint Optics (April 2008 – optical channel monitors) and AOFR (March 2009 – fused fiber couplers)
  • Avanex and Bookham merged (April 2009 – optical components, modules and subsystems) to form Oclaro Inc. (Nasdaq: OCLR)
  • EXFO (Nasdaq: EXFO; Toronto: EXF) acquired PicoSolve (February 2009 – optical sampling oscilloscopes for 40G and 100G R&D)
  • Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR) merged with Optium (August 2008)
  • GigOptix Inc. (OTC: GGOX) acquired Helix Semiconductors (January 2008 – optical physical-media-dependent ICs) and merged with Lumera (March 2008 – modulator technology)
  • Opnext Inc. (Nasdaq: OPXT) acquired StrataLight Communications (January 2009 – 40/100G products and subsystems)
  • Thorlabs Inc. acquired the assets of Covega (March 2009 – indium-phosphide and lithium-niobate components and modules) from owners Gemfire Corp. . Previously Gemfire and Covega had merged (February 2008).
This list emphasizes the point, expanded on later, that optical devices and modules are crucial to 40/100G, and are where a lot of current product development is taking place.

We have tried to make the listing as complete as possible in the time available for its compilation, but this is where you, Dear Reader, can help with any companies that have been missed.

If any companies need to be added, or any information corrected, please bring it to our attention either on the message board below or by sending an email to [email protected] or to [email protected], placing "Who Makes What: 40- & 100-Gbit/s Systems" in the subject line.

Here’s a hyperlinked contents list:

— Tim Hills is a freelance telecommunications writer and journalist. He's a regular author of Light Reading reports.

Next Page: Environment & Technology

Basic 40G transmission systems have been around for a while in ultra-long-haul and long-haul applications, but 40G is now spreading through the core to other parts of the network, particularly for metro ROADMs, as 40G becomes more generally deployed (see Table 1). Market research company Ovum Ltd. has estimated that by late 2008, more than 30 network operators worldwide had spent over $250 million since 2005 in deploying 40G.

And the future looks potentially bright. According to market research company Infonetics Research Inc. , the global market for 40G and 100G optical network equipment should grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 46 percent from 2009 to 2011 to reach US$5.1 billion. Of course, the current economic slowdown is clouding the issue, and Infonetics stresses that, for optical networks generally, much depends on whether service providers do follow through during the second half of 2009 with their indicated spending.

Vendors are naturally responding. An early commercial product exemplifying of the trend to end-to-end 40G is Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. ’s E2E 40G Internet Protocol (IP) and optical transport solution, announced in February at the MPLS & Ethernet World Congress 2009 in Paris. This supports IP-based ultra-broadband services by combining the company’s NetEngine5000E high-end router and 40G DWDM transport system.

Essentially, the move to 40G now and 100G later (but the sequence is disputed – see Page 4: Sticky Questions) rests on the standard telecom bandwidth-growth story. Bandwidth demands on the core are increasing because of the growth of IP traffic, video, and so on. Video traffic, in particular, has emerged as a major driver for more bandwidth – Cisco has estimated that video will represent half of consumer IP traffic by 2012 (and total IP traffic will be six times greater then than in 2007) – and 40G is seen by its adherents as a key way of handling router interconnection in this environment by aggregating multiple existing 10G links onto a smaller number of 40G ones. Another very important driver is fiber exhaust, both on metro and long-haul routes, which makes it important to squeeze more traffic onto existing fiber.

Although it is possible to stack multiple 10G streams onto fiber to achieve a 4x10G equivalent to 40G capacity, for example, 40G supports point out that this is not efficient in terms of router port usage – a 4x10G interface on a router port is less efficient than a single 40G one. Although such a single 40G interface is more expensive than a single 10G one, the cost factor (which has improved considerably over the last couple of years or so) is likely to approach about 2.5 times that of a single 10G interface.

So the industry is hoping that 40/100G will score twice with operators: It will cope with the traffic/bandwidth explosion and will save money by both reducing port counts (and associated operational expenditures) and extending the life of existing fiber assets.

100G is still under development, but first standards are scheduled to appear end-2009 and during 2010 (see below). There have been various demonstrations and trials, and research initiatives established, as Table 2 indicates.

Table 2: Recent 100G Demonstrations, Trials & Initiatives
Company/organization Location/date Activity
AT&T1, NEC Corporation of America and Corning Inc. USA/May 2008 Transmission of data at 114G over each of 320 separate optical channels on a single 580km optically amplified link
Banverket Sweden/April 2009 Live field trial, running 10G/40G/100G simultaneously on existing fiber network between Sundsvall and Stockholm
Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson Germany/March 2009 100G R&D field trial on existing optical platform as part of European 100Gbit/s Carrier-Grade Ethernet Transport Technologies Project
Ciena USA/August 2008 Demonstration of single wavelength transmission of a 100G data stream, through 80 km of fiber with Caltech
Georgia Institute of Technology USA/March 2009 Establishes the Georgia Tech 100G Optical Networking Consortium with 10 companies to perform multidisciplinary research in all aspects of 100G transmission
Global Access and Infinera Japan/January 2009 Complete Japan's first 100G Ethernet demonstration between Tokyo and Osaka
Neos Networks UK/March 2009 Trial of 100G DWDM optical system between Manchester and London
Verizon USA/September 2008 Moves 100G trials program to next stage with over 1000km runout on Richardson, Texas, network
Source: Light Reading, 2009

Particularly in the context of a 100G optical transmission system, it’s important to be clear on the difference between the external (client) interface and the system’s internal (line) interface. Although a system may present a 100G client interface, the fiber line transmission could be handled by, say, 10 optical wavelengths of 10G each (10x10G format), or by multiple 40G optical wavelengths. The goal, however, is to match both the client and line rates, so that a single 100G optical signal goes onto a single DWDM wavelength – which is why Ciena trumpeted its Caltech demonstration in Table 2, as it said that this was the first true, single-wavelength transmission of a 100G data stream through 80 km of fiber.

From the point of view of more traditional telecom protocols, 40G has been standardized for some time – it’s 40G Synchronous Optical Network (Sonet)/SDH OC-768/STM-256, which can be transported in turn by the International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) ’s G.709 digital-wrapper technology (Optical Transport Network – OTN) 43-Gbit/s OTU3s. Work has been under way for a couple of years or so on the next level up for OTN, which is very logically OTU4 and, equally logically, is intended to be available to transport 100G Ethernet. The ITU’s Study Group 15 recently (April 2009) approved an amendment to the 2003 second version of Recommendation G.709/Y.1331 that "specifies 100Gbit/s ODU4/OTU4, support of gigabit Ethernet services via ODU0, ODU2e, ODU3 and ODU4, multi-lane OTU3 and OTU4 and the Lower Order and Higher Order ODU concept to align with the 'one-stage multiplexing' specification described in clause 9.2 of Recommendation G.872." Which presumably means in standards-speak that all technical bases are covered.

Ethernet, and especially 100G Ethernet, is the real focus of interest because of its relentless rise as a universal Layer 2 network technology to underpin IP. Since December 2007, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) ’s P802.3ba Task Force has been working to define both 40 and 100G Ethernet standards, with a target date of 2010 for completion. Because Ethernet is now used over a range of scales, from meters to tens of kilometers, the eventual standards will embrace different Physical Layers, those most relevant to telecom network application being:

  • 10km range on singlemode fiber – both 40 and 100G
  • 40km range on singlemode fiber – 100G only
However, these are not going to provide a heavyweight 100G telecom transport technology for the metro or core, and are really oriented towards campus-style networks and (along with the shorter-range versions) connectivity for client interfaces. Not only is the range too short, but there are major issues of spectral efficiency. Instead, the key importance of 100G Ethernet to telecom networks is as a standard 100-Gbit/s client interface to network equipment.

In summary, 802.3ba aims to:

  • Support full-duplex operation only
  • Preserve the 802.3/Ethernet frame format utilizing the 802.3 MAC
  • Preserve the minimum and maximum frame sizes of the current 802.3 standard
  • Support a BER better than or equal to 10E-12 at the MAC/PLS service interface
  • Provide appropriate support for OTN
  • Support MAC data rates of 40 and 100 Gbit/s
For a short overview of further aspects of 40/100G Ethernet standards, see 40- & 100-Gbit/s Technology & Components.

Overall, this activity means that the 40/100G client interface is Ethernet, and the WAN interface is either OTU3/OTU4 or Ethernet for shorter spans.

As always, interoperability issues, gap filling, and other matters will loom large in the commercialization of 40/100G Ethernet, and various industry initiatives have already sprung up. For example, the short-lived Road to 100G Alliance (later merged with the Ethernet Alliance) formed a technical committee in June 2008 “to identify gaps in technology and standards that could impact the rollout of 100G OTN and Ethernet networking platforms,” as the Alliance states.

Multi-source agreements (MSAs) have long been a feature of the telecom equipment industry, as they commit groups of suppliers to supporting certain standardized module or device form factors, interfaces, and characteristics – and 40/100G is no exception. In March 2009, for example, Finisar, Opnext, and Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. / ExceLight Communications Inc. formed the CFP MSA, whose aim is to define a hot-pluggable optical transceiver form factor to enable 40 and 100G applications, including 40GbE, 100GbE, OC-768/STM-256, and OTU3 protocols, multimode and singlemode fiber optics, and various link distances.

The earlier XLMD-MSA, formed by Eudyna Devices Inc. , Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (Tokyo: 6503), NEC Electronics Corp. , Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd. , Opnext Inc. (Nasdaq: OPXT), and Sumitomo Electric Industries in 2007, had the more limited aims of establishing compatible sources of 40G optical transmitter and receiver devices embedded into 40G optical transceiver modules.

In between, in May 2008, the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) , concerned that device and module vendors in particular were beginning to scramble in different, incompatible directions over 100G, formed a consensus to use DP-QPSK modulation with a coherent receiver in 100G long-distance DWDM transmission, and later launched two more initiatives to look at photonic integration and the use of Forward Error Correction (FEC) in such systems.

Next Page: Vendors & Product Categories

The basic approach of this Who Makes What is to use three broad product categories, interpreted as follows:

  • Systems. The high-level network/transport systems or entities sold to network operators as the end product. This usually means at a minimum an optical transport product or family incorporating 40/100G WDM/ROADM capabilities, but may include switches/routers with 40G (currently) interfaces.

  • Devices / Modules / Subsystems. This forms a very broad category, covering the wide range of hardware elements used in end-product 40/100G systems. To make this category manageable, it is biased towards hardware devices and assemblies that provide 40/100G-specific functional capabilities. For example, modulators/demodulators, transponders, multiplexers/demultiplexers, network processors, and SerDes chipsets – but not lasers themselves, photodiodes, optical couplers, wavelength switching modules, or fiber, for example. Some items operate purely in the electrical domain, such as SerDes chipsets, while others are optical or part optical, such as laser modulators. It’s worth stressing that, in the optical-transmission world, "module" often means an assembly in a standard form factor, such as 300-pin or SFF.

  • Test & Measurement. This is a self-evident category, but biased towards the optical aspects of 40/100G.

Table 3 lists vendors against these broad categories for 40G and 100G applications. A main idea is to use further Tables to show vendors’ general product types or specific products to clarify the distinctions within the categories, to give more information, and to distinguish between 40 and 100G product activities when necessary.

Table 3: 40/100G Vendors
Vendor 40G systems 40G devices / modules / subsystems 40G T&M 100G systems 100G devices / modules / subsystems 100G T&M
ADVA Optical Networking Yes
Aegis Lightwave Yes Yes Yes Yes
Agilent Technologies Yes Yes
Alcatel-Lucent Yes
Altera Yes Yes
AMCC Yes Yes
Anritsu Yes Yes
Avago Technologies Yes Yes
Avvio Networks Yes Yes
Bay Microsystems Yes
BaySpec Yes Yes
BreakingPoint Systems Yes
Ciena Yes Yes
Cisco Systems Yes
CoreOptics Yes
Cortina Systems Yes
Covega Yes
Cube Optics Yes Yes
Digital Lightwave Yes
Discovery Semiconductors Yes Yes
Dune Networks Yes Yes
ECI Telecom Yes
eGTran Yes
Ekinops SAS Yes
Enablence Technologies Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ericsson Yes
Excelight Communications, Inc. --see Sumitomo
EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering Inc. Yes Yes
EZChip Technologies (Yes)
Finisar Yes
Fujitsu Yes Yes
GigOptix Yes Yes
Hitachi Yes
Huawei Technologies Yes
IDT Integrated Digital Technology Yes
Infinera Yes Yes
Inphi Yes
Ixia Yes Yes
JDSU Uniphase Yes Yes
Lattice Semiconductor Yes
Luxtera Yes
Mellanox Yes
Micram Yes
Mintera Yes
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation Yes
Monitoring Division, Inc. Yes
MorethanIP Yes Yes
MRV Communications Yes (Yes)
Narda Microwave Yes
NetLogic MicroSystems Yes
Nistica Yes Yes
Nokia Siemens Networks Yes
Nortel Yes Yes
Oclaro Yes
Ofidium (Yes)
Oki Optical Components Yes Yes
Opnext, Inc. Yes Yes
Optametra LLC Yes Yes
Optoplex Corporation Yes Yes
OpVista Yes Yes Yes Yes
Photop Yes
Picometrix Yes
Santur Yes Yes
SHF Communication Technology Yes Yes Yes
Sierra Monolithics Yes Yes
Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. / Excelight Communications Yes
Sunrise Telecom Yes
Tektronix Yes Yes
Teleoptix Yes
Tellabs Yes
TeraXion Yes
u2t Photonics Yes Yes
VI Systems Yes
Xelerated Yes Yes
Xtera Communications (Yes) (Yes)
Yokogawa Yes Yes
(Yes) indicates products in development at time of writing. Source: Light Reading, 2009

Next Page: Sticky Questions

Before looking in more detail at what these vendors have been doing recently in the 40/100G area, it’s worth noting some of the technical and other issues and questions that are helping to frame this commercial activity.

40 or 100G?
40G is beginning to spread into the wider network, but 100G is still being developed. A question is whether 40G will become no more than a stopgap until 100G becomes commercially available in standardized form.

Vendors almost inevitably disagree on the relative status of the two technologies. Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), for example, has argued that, as 100G has some way to go before it will be properly commercialized (maybe in a couple of years or so), this leaves a considerable window of opportunity for 40G. It is a good solution and will gain considerable momentum, and so will be around for a long time. Further, Tellabs’ systems will allow 40G and 100G to coexist, so that customers will have a migration path. Ciena, on the other hand, has been more skeptical, saying that it is likely that 40G will be deployed only in limited areas of network capacity until 100G is commercially available.

NTT America Inc. , for example, has no plans to engage with 40G equipment beyond data center applications of 40G Ethernet, but does expect to deploy 100G Ethernet extensively when 100G Ethernet interfaces become available across the router and switch platforms in 2010.

"100G Ethernet, when available, will provide an upgrade path for existing Nx10G links used both in long-haul and intra-POP applications," says Dorian Kim, NTT America's Director of Network Development, Global IP Networks. "For long-haul application, we expect 100G Ethernet to offer a cost-competitive and more substantive upgrade path alternative to 40G OC768 technology. We are working with our transport partners to field trial 100G Ethernet as soon as feasible."

He argues that in the intra-POP application, Nx100G Ethernet will offer a smoother and more operationally efficient upgrade path over existing Nx10G Ethernet links. Further, NTT America is seeing a demand for 100G Ethernet as a customer handoff technology for CDNs and the large carrier segments of its customer base. All this adds up to a clear need for 100G Ethernet.

100G Ethernet's limitations and uncertainties
The 10 and 40km-range forms of the 802.3ba standard do not envisage putting a single 100-Gbit/s signal onto a single optical wavelength. Instead, the standard proposes optically multiplexing lower-bitrate streams onto four wavelengths on the widely spaced 800GHz grid in the 1310nm window to provide a paralleled 4x25-Gbit/s structure. This is essentially because of the difficulties of implementing 100-Gbit/s serial data streams, even with modern electronics.

The combination of 800GHz grid and parallel channels makes 802.3ba too spectrally inefficient for heavyweight telecom use, irrespective of range limitations. Modulation schemes
Operators are not going to install new overlay fiber and networks to support 40/100G, so such transmission has to be achieved within the constraints of the existing fiber and ITU-T CWDM/DWDM optical wavelength grids. Although it is possible to support, for example, 100G client interfaces by inverse multiplexing parallel lanes of, say, 10G in a 10x10G format, this creates operational complications in managing such groups of wavelengths, and doesn’t increase the transmission capacity of the links or network as a whole. To do that means increasing the per-wavelength bitrate – ideally to 40/100G per single wavelength. The only way that this can be done within the basic 50GHz optical channel spacing of the ITU-T DWDM grid is to use complex modulation techniques reminiscent of those developed for earlier wireline and wireless communications.

Not only do these techniques need to squeeze much more information into an existing channel bandwidth, but they have to be extremely robust against optical transmission impairments, and these become more pronounced as bit rates increase. ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) has pointed out that, with conventional modulation methods (such as the long-established On-Off Keyed – OOK – modulation), a 100-Gbit/s signal would be 100 times more sensitive to fiber chromatic dispersion (CD) and 10 times more sensitive to polarization mode dispersion (PMD) than a 10-Gbit/s signal.

Many schemes have been proposed, using combinations of optical amplitude, phase, and polarization modulation, and much controversy has followed as to which, if any, is the best (see 40- & 100-Gbit/s Technology & Components and associated message board for some examples of schemes and controversy). For metro and regional applications, for example, DPSK-3ASK, using direct detection and 40G electronics, is favored by ADVA.

The essential technique of any complex modulation method is to increase the number of information bits carried by the optical signals transmitted over the line, so that the electronics and optics can run more slowly than the information or data rate. This means, for example, that a 100G information bitrate could be transported by an optical 40G line signal rate (the baud rate) if each optical signal carries 2.5 information bits. This is what DPSK-3ASK does.

Dual-polarization quadrature phase-shift keying (DP-QPSK) has emerged as an OIF 100G long-haul favorite, as noted above, and appears to have achieved considerable market acceptance – Nortel alone claims more than 40 customers for it since April 2008. But, as always, there are tradeoffs among feasibility, performance, and cost of modulation schemes, and different vendors are likely to continue to differ.

There is thus a circle of innovation appearing in which vendors are using modulation and advanced signal processing to ameliorate fiber impairments as a source of differentiation. As the later page on Devices, Modules & Subsystems will show, there is a huge burst of activity in developing 40/100G optical modulators. And systems vendors are also in on the act by offering, for example – as Ciena does – combinations of modulation format and CD/PMD management to ease the migration of 10G to 40G wavelengths.

In a nutshell, research and development continue (the European GET project to develop a 100-Gbit/s prototype metro muxponder is an example), so watch this space.

Next Page: Systems

Although new telecom infrastructure is the goal and end product of much of the 40/100G technology development, product development at the system level has so far tended to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. All the major telecom systems vendors have by now introduced 40G capabilities into their network infrastructure solutions, and some vendors are beginning to position their systems as 100G-ready/compatible (see Table 4).

Unsurprisingly, the system market is dominated by a relatively small number of large players, with a few smaller specialists, usually on the DWDM or line-transmission side.

Table 4: 40/100G Systems Vendors
Vendor Product types include
ADVA Optical Networking 40G WDM optical transport system
Alcatel-Lucent 40G DWDM optical transport system and multiservice switches
Avvio Networks 40G ROADMs
Ciena 40/100G optical transport system and services platform
Cisco Systems 40G IP over DWDM transport network, 40G carrier routers
ECI Telecom 40G ROADMs
Ekinops SAS 40G optical transport system
Ericsson 40G DWDM solution
Fujitsu 40G-compatible dispersion compensators, 40G metro/regional ROADM platforms
Hitachi 40G optical transmission system
Huawei Technologies 40G IP and optical transport solution (NetEngine5000E, 40G Optical Transport Network and DWDM system)
Infinera ILS2 next-generation optical line system, DTN switched DWDM system
MRV Communications 40G Packet Optical Transport Networking, including LambdaDriver WDM Optical Transport
NEC 40G optical transport system (DW4200 Metro/Regional ROADM)
Nokia Siemens Networks 40G optical transport systems (hiT 7300)
Nortel 40/100G optical transport system (40G/100G Adaptive Optical Engine, Optical Multiservice Edge 6500)
OpVista 40/100G CX8 optical networking system
Tellabs Optical Transport System with 40G transponder module
Xtera Communications 40/100G-ready long-haul optical line systems, 40G-ready metro WDM optical transport platforms
ZTE 40G-configurable long-haul DWDM transmission system
Source: Light Reading, 2009

Essentially, vendors can in the main evolve from 10G to 40/100G by introducing new line modules, ROADM capabilities, and so on, into their existing DWDM-based systems as needed, as the whole point of the standards is to maintain compatibility with existing wavelength grids. This fits in very nicely with the network operators’ intention of implementing higher capacity largely on an as-needed basis, rather than as a complete network rebuild. Note that this is all really about network transport – OTN OTU3s, Sonet/SDH OC768/STM256, multiplexed 10G network traffic onto 40G wavelengths, and so on – not putting client interfaces such as 40/100G Ethernet, which don’t properly exist yet, onto network boxes.

Nevertheless, the pace of 40G system development does seem to have accelerated recently, as Table 5 illustrates, and vendors are enhancing their earlier systems or moving to a new generation. An example is Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. 's new 40G interfaces for its Flashwave 7500 ROAD, which the company says offer improved optical performance but with a 50 percent smaller units. In principle, 40G should slot neatly into existing DWDM-based systems, but there are obvious practical issues about legacy fiber impairments and transmission ranges, for example, and these are typical of the issues addressed by recent systems developments.

Table 5: Examples of Recent 40G System Developments
Date Vendor Product developments include
June 2007 Ciena Announces FlexSelect 40G Shelf for CoreStream Agility Optical Transport System and CN 4200 FlexSelect Advanced Services Platform Family. Included adaptive dispersion management to address physical impairments associated with offering 40G services over legacy fiber networks
June 2007 Tellabs 40G transponder module for 7100 Optical Transport System (OTS)
March 2008 Nortel Launches 40G/100G Adaptive Optical Engine platform
June 2008 OpVista Announces CX8 Optical Networking System, based on the company's recently introduced Dense Multi-Carrier (DMC) technology
July 2008 Cisco Systems Enhancements to IPoDWDM solution and Cisco XR 12000 and 12000 Series routers, including doubling reach of Cisco CRS-1 40G IPoDWDM to 2000kmwithout regeneration
August 2008 Avvio Networks Introduces A4025E edge ROADM
September 2008 Cisco Systems New Ethernet Series Plus 40G line card for the Cisco 7600 Series routers
November 2008 Ekinops Announces 2009 lauch of 40G transport platforms, initially with 4x10G muxponder, enabling 160 channels of 10G transmission. Later will offer a 40G serial interface to offer 320 channels of 10G, or 80 channels of 40G, in C-Band
February 2009 Huawei Technologies Announces that end-to-end 40G IP and optical transport solution, including high-end router NetEngine5000E and 40G Optical Transport Network and DWDM system, is ready for commercial deployment
March 2009 Nokia Siemens Networks Introduces compact (7-rack) 40G platform for hiT 7300 optical platform. Includes optional Polarization-Mode-Dispersion Compensator, which company says helps older, lower-quality or stressed fibers achieve up to three times their current reach
March 2009 ZTE Launches intelligent Wavelength-Division Multiplexing) solution with STM-256 capability
June 2009 Fujitsu Network Communications Announces second generation 40Gs interfaces for its FLASHWAVE 7500 ROADM. Use an Adaptive Differential Phase-Shift Keying (ADPSK) modulation scheme and Fujitsu's Variable Dispersion Compensation (VDC)
Source: Light Reading, 2009

On the 100G side, although, for example, 100-Gbit/s WANs are beginning to find InfiniBand applications, and early moves being made in 100GigE PHYs, and various demonstrations (see Tables 2 and 3) have been done of working trial telecom systems, it’s really too soon to be thinking in terms of definite commercial products on any scale. Fairly typical of the bigger players are Huawei Technologies, which, in July 2008, announced its prototype 100G WDM system, and Nortel, which made a similar announcement a few months earlier.

An example to provide context to the changes being brought to optical transmission systems generally through the move to 40/100G is Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN)’s ILS2 next-generation optical line system, launched in June 2008. According to the company, this uses a 25GHz wavelength grid to pack up to 160 DWDM channels into the C-band, with an optical reach to 2500km and with future scalability of up to 8 Tbit/s on a single fiber, supporting 10/40/100-Gbit/s service delivery.

Next Page: Devices, Modules & Subsystems I

In comparison with systems, the devices/modules/subsystems category is heavily populated, with many smaller companies, and is really where the 40/100G action is – a torrent of new products has appeared over the last year or so. Table 6 lists vendors and their typical product types.

Table 6: 40/100G Devices, Modules & Subsystems Vendors
Vendor Product types include
Aegis Lightwave 40/100G DWDM optical channel monitors
Altera 40/100G Ethernet transceivers for chip-to-chip, backplane and cable applications
AMCC 10G/40G/100G PHY, framer, mapper, and transceiver components
Avago Technologies 40/100G parallel optical modules
Avvio Networks EDFAs, CWDM/DWDM mux/demux OADMs
Bay Microsystems 40G network and transport processors
BaySpec 40G-discernable optical channel performance monitors
CoreOptics 40-Gbit/s Serializer/Deserializer chipsets, 40G Single-Channel Short-Reach and 40/43G DWDM transponder modules, 43Gbit/s Ultra-FEC,40GMux/DeMux for 4x10G client signals
Cortina Systems 40G Sonet/SDH Framer and POS Mapper
Covega 40G lithium-niobate modulators
Cube Optics Miniature electro-optical modules for 40G and 100G telecommunications transceivers
Discovery Semiconductors 40G receivers, quad photodiode arrays for 40/100G optical communications
Dune Networks 40/100G-capable switching fabrics and traffic-management processors
eGTran 40G transponders and ICs, including 40G transimpedance amplifiers and 40G laser/modulator drivers
Enablence Technologies 40G - AWGs, channel monitors, variable optical attenuators, crossconnects, photodiodes, tunable dispersion compensators, ROADMs. 100G - AWGs, channel monitors, variable optical attenuators, photodiodes, TOSA/ROSA
EZChip Technologies (In development) 100G NP-4 Ethernet Network Processor
Finisar 40G client-side and line-side transponders; 40G DWDM RZ-DQPSK transponder
Fujitsu 40G-compatible dispersion compensators, 40G metro/regional ROADM platforms
GigOptix 40/100G MZ & EA Driver Amplifiers & VCSEL Driver Amplifiers, 40G Polymer Modulators, 40/100G Transimpedance Amplifiers
IDT Integrated Digital Technology 40G-capable search/route accelerators
Inphi 28 Gbit/s differential Mach-Zehnder modulator driver, 43G transimpedance amplifiers
JDSU Uniphase 40G DQPSK Mach-Zehnder modulators
Lattice Semiconductor LatticeSC/M FPGA 40G SERDES Framers
Luxtera 40G optical active cable for data-center interconnects, QSFP optical transceivers
Mellanox 40G InfiniBand Host Channel Adapters
Micram Multiplexer, demultiplexer and MSDFF components supporting 30 - 60Gbit/s, 100G-capable DAC/ADC chips
Mintera 40G DWDM DPSK transponders
Mitsubishi Electric Coroporation 43G optical transmitters and receivers
Monitoring Division, Inc. 40G optical performance monitoring
MorethanIP Designs for 40/100G Ethernet MAC and PCS
Narda Microwave 40G data driver and timing oscillator modules
NetLogic MicroSystems 40/100G Ethernet PHY, 40G routing processors
Nistica 40/100G-compatible ROADM modules
Oclaro 40G ODQPSK tunable transmitters, 40G modulators, tunable dispersion compensators
Ofidium (In development) 100G transceivers
Oki Optical Components 40G optical modulators and modulated lasers, 40/100G EML drivers
Opnext, Inc. 40G OTS-4000 series optical terminal subsystem; 40G transceivers (VSR, PSBT, DPSK, DQPSK); 100GbE optical transceiver
Optoplex Corporation 40G D(Q)PSK demodulators; 100G DQPSK demodulator and QPSK mixer
OpVista 40G Muxponder, 40/100G CX8 optical networking system
Photop 40G Optical DQPSK Demodulator
Picometrix 40G client-side NRZ and line-side DPSK and DQPSK optical receivers
Santur 40G and 100G DFB tunable lasers; 100G transceiver platform
SHF Communication Technology 40G clock-recovery solutions
Sierra Monolithics Communication ICs for 40G optical networks, 40G mux and demux, 100G mux and demux chipset
Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. / Excelight Communications 100G Ethernet optical interface
Teleoptix 40G modules and components: MSA 300-pin transponders, balanced photoreceivers, EDFA preamplifiers
TeraXion Tunable dispersion-compensation modules for 40G
u2t Photonics 40G photoreceivers (balanced, differential, single ended), 100G photodetectors (40GHz, AC coupled, 50GHz, 70GHz, 100GHz, 50GHz balanced detectors, DC coupled)
VI Systems 25G and 40G VCSEL at 850nm and photodetecor chips for up to 40G, fiber-coupled modules (such as recent photodetector module D30-850M) for lab tests
Xelerated 40/100G network processors
Yokogawa 40G transponders (DQPSK and NZ-DQPSK), photodiode modules, mux/demuxs
Source: Light Reading, 2009

In a short Who Makes What, it’s impossible to consider every type of device, module or subsystem relevant to 40/100G equipment. Fortunately, that isn’t necessary, because much of the development activity has been concentrated in a few key areas, including:

  • Silicon electronics
  • Optical modulators/demodulators
  • Optical transceivers/transponders/muxponders
Framing much of this activity is the simple fact that data rates of 40/100-Gbit/s are fast in the context of current technology practice, and hence, initially, inherently expensive to implement at the device/module level. So pushing down prices, particularly in the more exotic areas, such as optical modulators/demodulators, is an important issue, technically and commercially.

As NTT America’s Kim warns: "We expect that initial high cost of optics will translate into a slower adoption rate for 100G Ethernet than for other previous iterations of the Ethernet technology – outside of very high bandwidth user communities such as large carriers and CDNs. One potential way this issue could be alleviated would be through leveraging existing 10G optics, but at this point it does not appear that there is a workable consensus towards 10x10G optics even for short-reach applications."

Next Page: Devices, Modules & Subsystems II

Silicon electronics comprises devices, digital signal processors, and other network processors that act as, for example, framers, mappers, Physical Layers (PHYs), switch fabrics, and transceivers, and which all operate in the electrical domain. Table 7 gives some recent examples of developments in this area.

Table 7: Examples of Recent Developments in 40/100G Silicon Electronics
Date Vendor Product developments include
February 2008 Cortina Systems CS1999 40G OC768c POS framer mapper device -- a claimed industry first
June 2008 CoreOptics 40Gbit/s Serializer/Deserializer integrated circuits
June 2008 Xelerated HX300 family of network processors with integrated traffic management and fully-programmable Ethernet switches. Claimed as first NPU architecture that scales to 100Gbit/s full duplex. Applications include 100 GE, 40 GE and OC-768
January 2009 Lattice Semiconductor 40Gbit/s SERDES Framer Interface for LatticeSC/M FPGA families
February 2009 Fujitsu Fujitsu Laboratories develops CMOS transmitter IC for 40G optical transmission systems
March 2009 Applied Micro Circuits Corporation Yahara device family for Ethernet/optical mapping, including 40G to 100G muxponder applications
March 2009 NetLogic Microsystems NLP10142 100GE physical layer solution, supporting 100G over 40km on SM cabling, 100m on OM3 MMF, or 10m over a copper cable assembly
Source: Light Reading, 2009

Silicon electronics are also required to provide electrical signal Multiplexing/Demultiplexing. Micram Microelectronic GmbH claimed a first at the Optical Fiber Conference 2009 in San Diego by announcing silicon mux/demux chips supporting 112-Gbit/s On-Off Keying (OOK) modulation scheme. The company said that the MX4130F 4:1 Mux broke new ground by providing an FPGA control layer, thereby enabling very-high-speed data streams to be generated by off-the-shelf FPGAs from Xilinx and Altera.

This provides a neat link to optical modulators/demodulators, which form perhaps the most exciting area of product development because of the key role that advanced modulation techniques play in 40/100G systems. These devices cause a laser-generated optical carrier wavelength to vary according to the input electrical 40G signal (modulator), and vice versa (demodulator). How this is done depends on the type of modulation being used and the particular technology used to implement it.

Vendors are consequently becoming a little hysterical in their product announcements. GigOptix, for example, modestly claimed only two world firsts in March 2009 for its 100G modulator products: a 4-channel 28-Gbit/s Mach-Zehnder modulator driver, integrated into a single GPPO package (production samples aimed at the first quarter of 2010, but early prototypes for research and development of DP-QPSK 100-Gbit/s transmitters are already available on request), and an electro-optic polymer-based NRZ MZ modulator operating at 100-Gbit/s.

More modestly, a year earlier, Optoplex Corp. said that its DQPSK demodulator and QPSK mixer, both designed for 100G systems, had successfully completed sample evaluations by development groups at several major telecom systems providers.

Meanwhile, down at a mere 40G, Bookham (now combined with Avanex under the new Oclaro name), made a bid in mid-2008 for the industry’s smallest 40-Gbit/s modulator, an indium-phosphide Mach-Zehnder modulator measuring under 10mm. This particular device forms part of the company’s 40-Gbit/s OD-QPSK tunable transmitter assembly (TTA), which the company says is designed to meet price points that will permit cost-effective deployment of 40-Gbit/s transmission in metro networks. The TTA, which implements the required control circuitry, including an OIF-standard tunable laser interface, measures 74x39x8.4mm, and is the first building block toward the company’s 40-Gbit/s transponder.

Later in that year, Photop Technologies Inc. announced a high-performance 40G DQPSK demodulator based on its Free Space Micro Optics Block (FSMOB) technology, which the company says gives low cost, compact size, high performance, and reliability. The reliance on such vendor-specific technologies is characteristic of these products.

But, not to be outdone in the either the Mach-Zehnder or size stakes, Inphi Corp. claimed in March 2009 the industry’s first 28-Gbit/s differential Mach-Zehnder modulator driver in a compact 7x7mm ceramic surface-mount package. This, the company says, makes it about 90 percent smaller than current metal packages, and very suitable for next-generation 40G DPSK and 100G DP-QPSK transponders.

Optical transceivers are strictly integrated optical transmitters (such as the Oclaro TTA above) and optical receivers (which provide optical detection and demodulation), but the term can be used loosely to lump together separate transmitter and receiver devices. Like the modulators/demodulators they contain, this category is also showing fairly rapid recent development. Companies including Mitsubishi, Oki, Optoplex, and StrataLight (now merged with Optoplex) all announced new 40G devices during 2008 and early 2009, while names for 100G devices include Ofidium Pty Ltd. , Oki, Opnext, Santur Corp. , and Sumitomo.

As an example of 40G trends, Oki’s OL5191M integrates the electro-absorption-modulated laser (EML) and driver IC into a single housing, which the company says should reduce the mounting area compared to the traditional approach of using an EML module and external driver IC by as much as 60 percent.

Meanwhile, at 100G, Opnext in March 2009 claimed the world's first 100G Ethernet optical transceiver for 10km transmission over standard singlemode fiber (SMF). The new device has a 1310nm-wavelength-range 25-Gbit/s electro-absorption modulator with integrated distributed-feedback laser, transmitter, and PIN-PD receiver optical subassemblies.

Optical transponders package the electrical and optical devices and functions needed for line transmission, including transceiver, multiplexing/demultiplexing, filtering, and control, into a standard module package, such as the 300-pin MSA. Muxponders are essentially transponders with client interfaces that are multiplexed/demultiplexed onto/from the higher-rate line signal – the the 4:1 muxponder that puts 4x10G onto 40G thus provides an efficient method for aggregating 10-Gbit/s traffic and quadrupling the capacity of existing 10-Gbit/s-based networks.

Since transponders are real products that technicians handle, there has been a steady stream of new products from companies such as eGTran, Finisar, Mintera, OpVista, and the former StrataLight during 2008 and early 2009 as 40G systems have become increasingly commercialized.

As an example, Finisar’s 40-Gbit/s tunable DPSK optical transponder is a long-reach transponder available in a 300-pin MSA package. It supports wavelength tuning (both 50 and 100GHz line spacing) across either the Extended C or L bands, and has an OIF SFI-5 compliant interface that provides 16 differential 2.5-Gbit/s lines. It supports a variety of protocols including OC768, STM256 and OTU3. There is an optional integrated PMD mitigation module, which the company says has been demonstrated to correct for over 30ps of differential group delay at bit-rates in excess of 40 Gbit/s.

Next Page: Test & Measurement

T&M vendors adore new technologies, and 40/100G particularly excels from their perspective because it pushes fairly hard against the state of the art for telecom optical networking and therefore requires new T&M kit. Even better, the technology will in the main be retrofitted into existing fiber networks – so cutting-edge technology has to be made to work in circumstances that did not envision it, thereby putting a premium on network qualification and monitoring. Carriers, telcos, and system vendors will thus have a large T&M requirement, and vendors have been busily gearing up to fulfill it.

Table 8 extracts the T&M vendors listed in Table 3 and gives an indication of the type of product or product area with which they are involved. Table 9 gives examples of recent product launches or announcements by some of these vendors to suggest some of the directions in which 40/100G T&M is moving.

Table 8: Table 8: 40/100G Test & Measurement Vendors
Vendor Product types include
Aegis Lightwave 40/100G DWDM optical channel monitors
Agilent Technologies 40/100G optical modulation analyzers, sampling oscilloscopes
Anritsu 40/100G signal-quality analyzers
BaySpec 40G-discernable optical channel performance monitors
BreakingPoint Systems 40G application traffic generator/testers
Digital Lightwave 40/43G testing solutions
Enablence Technologies 40/100G optical channel monitors
EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering Inc. 40 Gig/43 Gig SONET/SDH and OTN testing module, optical sampling oscilloscopes for 40G and 100G R&D, manufacturing and deployment applications, 40/100G Ethernet portable testers, 100G Ethernet compliance testers
Ixia 40/100GE test systems, 100 GE Development Accelerator System
JDSU Uniphase 40/43G ONT Optical Network Testers
Monitoring Division, Inc. 40G optical performance monitoring
Optametra LLC OM4005 and OM4006 Coherent Lightwave Signal Analyzers for 40/100G Physical Layer Test
SHF Communication Technology BERT systems for up to 56G, covering 40G range and with upgrade capability to 100G with further SHF modules, BERT systems for 40G production testing, reference optical transmitters and receivers for various optical modulation formats and bit rates up to 100G
Sunrise Telecom 40G/43G network test system
Tektronix 40/100G serial-data analyzers/oscilloscopes
Yokogawa Optical Spectrum Analyzers, OTDRs and Transport/Ethernet protocol analyzers - such as NX4000 40G Transport Analyzer for 39G SONET/SDH, 43G OTN, and 44.57 Ethernet over OTN.
Source: Light Reading, 2009

Table 9: Examples of Recent 40/100G T&M Products
Date Vendor Product Stated characteristics include
January Yokogawa Enhancement to NX4000 Transport/Protocol Analyzer Addition of 43G/44.57G Optical DQPSK capability
February 2008 BaySpec 40G IntelliGuardT Optical Channel Performance Monitor Enhanced 10/40G modulation discernment capability
May 2008 Agilent Technologies 86116C 40 to 65GHz optical and 80GHz electrical modules R&D, manufacturing and compliance verification of 25 -43Gbit/s transmitters for 40/100G (4 x 25G) Ethernet, 40G Sonet/SDH
September 2008 EXFO New software release, the IQS-8140 or FTB 8140 40G/43G analyzers New tests, including automatic protection switching (APS) and service disruption time (SDT) testing for compliance with Telcordia GR 253 and ITU-T G.841; also provides 40G round-trip delay (RTD) analysis
October 2008 Digital Lightwave Compact NIC 40G, NIC Plus Portable battery-operated 40/43G testing with NRZ, DPSK, DQPSK, and DuoBinary coding options; also tunable-laser option
November 2008 Anritsu MP1800 Signal Quality Analyzer Ultra high-speed bit error rate (BER) measurement, including 100G Ethernet and 40G long-haul transmission
December 2008 Sunrise Telecom STT 40G 40G/43G network test system OTU3, STM-256 and OC-768 performance testing, troubleshooting, and diagnostics
January 2009 Yokogawa Enhancement to NX4000 Transport/Protocol Analyzer Addition of 43G/44.57G Optical DPSK capability
February 2009 Digital Lightwave Optical Spectrum Analyzer (OSA) modules for the NIC Platform Detection of signal level, frequency/wavelength and OSNR
February 2009 Ixia 100 GE Development Accelerator System 100GE traffic generation and analysis
March 2009 Aegis Semiconductor CTM 1250, CTM 2250 Optical Channel Monitors 40/100G DWDM channels with any modulation formats
March 2009 Agilent Technologies (a) N4391A optical modulation analyzer, (b) 86100CU-401 Advanced Eye Analysis software (a)Time-domain-analysis-based coherent detection system for analysis of amplitude and phase modulated 40/100G optical signals, (b) Eye diagram jitter analysis on any pattern (PRBS-31, live traffic, other...), including J2, J9, DDPWS and RJ/DJ/TJ jitter measurements
March 2009 Anritsu MP1800A Signal Quality Analyzer Evaluates DP-QPSK, DQPSK, DPSK, and ODB optical modulators and transponders
March 2009 JDS Uniphase ONT-503 Optical Network Tester, TestPoint 40 Gbps V2 Module OC-768/STM-256, OTU3 43G OTN and 40G Sonet/SDH test and verification of network elements, transponders and Physical Layer
March 2009 Monitoring Division eyeD 360 Network Monitor Measures simultaneously power level, OSNR, CD and PMD on live optical networks
March 2009 Optametra OM4005 and OM4006 Coherent Lightwave Signal Analyzers Visualization and measurement of dual-polarized complex-modulated signals in fiber, 40/100G
March 2009 Tektronix Optical sampling oscilloscope modules for DSA8200 Digital Serial Analyzer Series Compliance verification of transmitter standards from 40 to 100G and beyond; also module for 100G Ethernet manufacturing and compliance verification
May 2009 EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering (a) FTB-85100G Packet Blazer, (b) IQS-85100G Packet Blazer (a) 40 and 100G Ethernet tester in a single portable module, supporting multiple transceiver interfaces (CFP, CXP and QSFP), and offering Layer 1/2/3 traffic generation and analysis, (b) Layer 1/2/3, CFP-Based Ethernet Compliance Tester for rapid prototyping, productization and commercialization of 40 and 100G Ethernet equipment
May 2009 SHF Communication Technology SHF 11110 A and SHF 11122 A Multi-Band Error Analyser Modules 40G bit-error analyzers addressing applications in the production environment of 40G components, modules and subsystems. CCITT-conformant PRBS error analysis can be performed over bit rates of 39.8 to 43.1Gbit/s, covering 40Gbit/s and the related standard FEC rates up to 43.1Gbit/s
Source: Light Reading, 2009

It’s immediately obvious that, optical modulation analyzers are an important part of the 40/100G T&M business. As noted earlier, the whole concept of optical transmission at these speeds rests on devising suitable (and complex) modulation formats, so it is inevitable that some sophisticated T&M kit will appear, capable of handling a wide range of formats and analysis requirements. An example is Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A)’s N4391A, which provides: an optical coherent receiver supporting transmission rates over 100 Gbit/s, with a receiver bandwidth of over 37GHz (74GHz optical); DPSK/DQPSK (including polarization multiplexing); and a choice of 34 digital modulation formats and 20 customizable data-analysis tools.

At the really gritty end of R&D, manufacturing, and deployment are high-speed optical sampling oscilloscopes – a motive for EXFO acquiring Swedish oscilloscope specialist PicoSolve in March 2009. Devices capable of handling 40/100G are essential for visualizing the complex modulation formats used. The new optical sampling oscilloscope modules noted in Table 9 from Tektronix, for example, include the 80C10B module, which, the company says, provides 80+ GHz of optical bandwidth and signal fidelity for detailed characterization of 40 Gbit/s and beyond, and uses special filtering technology for specific industry standards. These include OC768/STM256, VSR2000 (ITU-T G.693), 40GBase-LR (future serial), OTU3, 4x10G LAN PHY, 100GBase-LR4, 100GBase-ER4, 100GBase-LR4 + FEC, and 100GBase-ER4 + FEC.

Qualifying existing fiber links as suitable for 40G operation is also a key task. The point of Monitoring Division Inc. (MDI) ’s eyeD 360 Network Monitor, the company says, is that it simultaneously measures the four factors needed to determine which in-service 10G fibers can be upgraded to 40G by measuring power level, optical signal/noise ratio, chromatic dispersion, and polarization mode dispersion on live optical networks.

— Tim Hills is a freelance telecommunications writer and journalist. He's a regular author of Light Reading reports.

Back to Introduction

(8)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Copyright © 2019 Light Reading, part of Informa Tech,
a division of Informa PLC. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Terms of Use