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Test & Measurement

OFC Goes to 100

5:25 PM -- Here's something that could make OFC/NFOEC a little different for me this year: test and measurement breakthroughs. It's not something I'd focused on at past shows.

We've covered 100-Gbit/s hero experiments for a while now, but when it comes to making the technology safe for the real world, someone has to build real traffic generators and analyzers. That's true at every new technology speed, but companies seem particularly anxious to crow about their results for 100 Gbit/s.

I'm thinking it's partly a function of how long it's been since a real speed jump took place (a lot of 40-Gbit/s technology has been out there for some time) and partly an acknowledgement of how big a jump 100 Gbit/s is.

We've already glanced at what Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) and Spirent Communications plc are doing. (See Nortel Taps Ixia for 100GE.) And plenty of other bits and pieces are likely to come up as OFC/NFOEC time approaches.

One arbitrary example: Inphi Corp. and its 28-Gbit/s reference design, announced at Japan's Fiber Optics Expo and slated for an OFC/NFOEC demo. (See Inphi Tests BER.) It's a receiver board based on a 50-GHz demultiplexer, and its job is to downshift high-speed signals to something a 10-Gbit/s tester can handle.

The "28" number comes from dividing the 100-Gbit/s signal into four lanes and adding forward error correction. There's more to come, eventually, as serial 100-Gbit/s transmission gets closer to commercial interest. "The hard part is the 100-Gbit/s front end, which we'll have to build someday," says Frances Ho, Inphi's senior director of business development. (Very few companies are talking to Inphi about "someday," he adds, so it's going to be a wait.)

So far, there's no commercial 100-GHz demultiplexer. While I haven't yet scoured the OFC/NFOEC program, I'd guess hints about that and other advanced developments are in there -- whether in the form of legitimate 100-Gbit/s-related research, or papers using "100 Gbit/s" as bait for reporters who insist on putting "100" in so many headlines. — Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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