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Optical components

Picolight Adds to 4-Gig Arsenal

Continuing the cascade of 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel announcements, Picolight Inc. yesterday afternoon announced a transceiver based on a 1310nm Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL).

Picolight already announced an 850nm transceiver in July, but the 1310nm part gives the company a chance to cash in on the 4-Gbit/s hype of the past few weeks. It's also a counter to Infineon Technologies AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: IFX), which demonstrated a 1310nm, 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel transceiver at the recent ECOC. (See Picolight Takes eSFP to 5-Gig, PMC-Sierra Debuts 4-Gig FC Chips, Infineon Samples 4-Gig FC Optics, and Agilent Debuts 4-Gig Core.)

Just about every transceiver vendor is expected to announce some kind of 4-Gbit/s device, now that the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) has blessed a 4-Gbit/s storage area network (SAN) standard (see PMC Dips 4-Gig FC Chips). Most transceivers will probably use 850nm light sources, but Picolight sees some uses for the longer-reach 1310nm parts.

One example would be a dark-fiber service, where a company would lease fiber but would be responsible for setting up its own Fibre Channel connections on either end. The concept has a precedent in the old Ficon standard.

"The 2-Gbit/s Ficon standard is a 1310nm singlemode-fiber spec, and, in general, if that's run over long distances, that's usually a leased dark fiber," says Warner Anders, Picolight's vice president of marketing. "I'm not sure of any Fibre Channel services where the carrier provides a native Fibre Channel interface."

Equipment using 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel is expected to emerge in mid-2004, both in SAN switches and back-end storage connections. The SAN side was expected to skip directly to 10 Gbit/s, taking advantage of the components being developed for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet and OC192 Sonet, but an aggressive push led by QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) helped the 4-Gbit/s SAN idea take hold (see FC Fires Up 4-Gig Fiesta).

The jump to 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel from 2 Gbit/s presents few technical difficulties. But the move to 10-Gbit/s Fibre Channel could be tough, and some are wondering if the 4-Gbit/s diversion will delay the research that's necessary to make 10-Gbit/s Fibre Channel work.

"Are they shooting themselves in the foot by doing 4 Gbit/s instead of accelerating 10 Gbit/s? Time will tell," says one transceiver vendor official who requested anonymity.

The uses for 10-Gbit/s Fibre Channel might be limited anyway.

"There is room for 10-Gbit/s Fibre Channel, but we see that as primarily a switch-to-switch interconnect," Anders says. For 10-Gbit/s connections beyond the data center, he believes it possible that Fibre Channel would be encapsulated into Sonet or IP rather than sent as 10-Gbit/s Fibre Channel.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
materialgirl 12/4/2012 | 11:22:10 PM
re: Picolight Adds to 4-Gig Arsenal The anticipated use of 4Gbps FCI over leased dark fiber is yet another sign of "asset based telecom". The "services" and "intelligence" are user owned at the edge, and the "network" is a dumb pipe. Storage is the next killer app, and it is starting now.

4Gbps and 10Gbps must stand on their own ROI merits. If the price/performance of 4Gbps is good enough, who needs 10Gbps. If 4Gbps is a no-brainer upgrade to 2Gbps and costs less than 2X as much, of course people will use it, given they need the speed (which they do at this point).
Go_SENS 12/4/2012 | 11:22:07 PM
re: Picolight Adds to 4-Gig Arsenal Can anybody tell me who's VCSEL's are these.
Are these manufactured by Picolight or some one else?
Steve0616 12/4/2012 | 11:22:00 PM
re: Picolight Adds to 4-Gig Arsenal Picolight has been a strong player in LW VCSELs, not 100% certain, but would bet they use their own.
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