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Tellium Gets Some Competition

Light Reading
Supercomm News Analysis
Light Reading
5/22/2001

Startup TeraBurst Networks Inc. came out of stealth mode today with an announcement of its first two products -- some rather strange-sounding optical switches (see TeraBurst Unveils Core Switch Solutions).

The switches, dubbed the OMS2100 and OMS2200, handle whole wavelengths and have electrical cores. However, they’re totally different from other switches sharing this description -- notably those from Tellium Inc. (Nasdaq: TELM) -- because they switch analog rather than digital electrical signals.

This gives TeraBurst switches some of the characteristics of all-optical switches, like the ones from Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV).

Specifically, TeraBurst’s boxes occupy far less space than Tellium’s switches, they consume far less power, and they can scale to handle higher speeds -- up to 40 Gbit/s -- without a corresponding decrease in the number of ports, according to Shantanu Mitra, director of product marketing. Tellium hadn’t responded to requests for comments at press time.

TeraBurst calls its technology OMO, for optical millimeter-wave optical, in a deliberate effort to set itself apart from the usual arguments over whether all-optical (OOO) switches are better than electrical core (OEO) ones.

The best way of understanding OMO is to trace some light passing through TeraBurst’s switch. For a kickoff, light coming from a DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) system has to be separated into individual colors. Then each wavelength is passed through a transceiver to convert it into an electrical signal, which is digital -- a string of 0s and 1s. This is then converted into an analog electrical signal -- one where the voltage rises and falls smoothly over time -- before being shunted into the switching fabric.

The switching fabric itself is passive. In other words, it stays the same all the time. It comprises a whole lot of intersecting electrical circuits, corresponding to the number of ports on the switch. The electrical current passing along a circuit is pulled into the appropriate intersecting circuit by changing impedances. Like water, the electricity follows the path of least resistance and ends up coming out at the right place, where it’s then put back through the converter, transceiver, and DWDM system to start its next leg of the journey.

The cool thing about this is that the circuits can carry a range of data rates, up to 40 Gbit/s, according to Mitra. With OEO switches like Tellium’s, the overall capacity is fixed, so every notch up in speed entails a notch down in the number of ports. Tellium has a switch that handles 512x512 ports of OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) traffic, or 128x128 ports of OC192 (10 Gbit/s) traffic. If it were to stretch to 40 Gbit/s, then the switch would only have 32x32 ports.

Tellium’s switch with this overall capacity -- 1.28 terabits a second -- occupies four racks, according to Mitra. TeraBurst’s bigger switch, with 64x64 OC192 ports, occupies only half a rack. It’s a similar picture with power consumption, he contends.

Of course, Tellium is shipping its switch, while TeraBurst has yet to demonstrate its products in public. A demo is planned at Supercomm in less than two weeks’ time. Mitra claims TeraBurst has four letters of intent from carriers interesting in trialing its switches, and two firm commitments to conduct lab tests. He declines to name the carriers.

The OMS2200 is scheduled for limited customer availability next September. The OMS2100 will follow a month later.

TeraBurst’s potential is reflected in the quality of its financial backers. Its latest round, $32.4 million, was led Tyco Ventures, the VC arm of TyCom Ltd. (NYSE: TCM; BSX: TCM) (see TeraBurst Enjoys $32.4M Round). The VC arm of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MER) led the previous round.

— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com

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Mark Sebastyn
Mark Sebastyn
12/4/2012 | 8:23:21 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
64 OC-192's in 1/2 a rack is physically impossible (unless it's reeeeealy tall) using today's optics modules. You will need two switch fabric cards, minimum, plus Clock/Mgmt card(s). That leaves 6 cards, tops, which is 10 electrical OC-192 interfaces with all of the PM carriers want on a single card in a 'normal' rack height. I would be interested in seeing how this is accomplished!

Also, does next Sept imply '01 or '02. If it's '02 then perhaps anything is possible.
flanker
flanker
12/4/2012 | 8:23:20 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
The other question is how this thing accepts optical channels from other vendor equipment.

Different DWDM vendors operate in different neghborhoods on the ITU grid.



braddillman
braddillman
12/4/2012 | 8:23:20 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
Maybe the interfaces aren't typical for OC-192? Maybe they're oriented toward the analog nature of the OMO switch. Just a thought.
braddillman
braddillman
12/4/2012 | 8:23:20 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
The article highlights differences of OMO with OEO, but isn't OOO going to be cheaper?
manoflalambda
manoflalambda
12/4/2012 | 8:23:18 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
Interesting,

I guess the optics can be denser if there no overhead/PM/transponder type functions needed. Perhaps some sort of small-form-factor SR/VSR type parts. 64 per rack may also be all one direction? Input or output....

There are some asking for some OEO features (like detecting AIS etc) in some OOOs, how will the OMO do that? Specialty interfaces I guess...

Hmmm... Salute,
Manoflalambda
Mark Sebastyn
Mark Sebastyn
12/4/2012 | 8:23:17 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
They pretty clearly indicate that Performance Monitoring is available as well as 3R retiming. That implies electronics, heat, CPU busses, power supplies, and all the other goodies that take up space.
gea
gea
12/4/2012 | 8:23:16 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
This is interesting. It reminds me of the good ole' 1R regenerator days of WDM systems (eg, Pirelli). These systems theoretically had greater transparency, but they're not bit-aware (hence no digital PM), and their output eye pattern is a function of the input eye pattern, meaning they clean out only certain types of signal impariments.

Of course, they could be using 3R transponders, and if that's the case then they would have to change transponders to handle OC-768 (but at least the switch matrix could handle it, unlike Tellium). But if THIS is the case, then why not MEMs?

This sounds like a product that could do very well in certain niches, but I have doubts as to its widespread viability.
johnjohn
johnjohn
12/4/2012 | 8:23:11 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
This switch is still an OEO and we all know the problems associated with that (scalability, space, power). Also, with some of these ultra-dense systems (i.e. Calient), access to the fibers is a nightmare.

"The best way of understanding OMO is to trace some light passing through TeraBurstGÇÖs switch. For a kickoff, light coming from a DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) system has to be separated into individual colors. Then each wavelength is passed through a transceiver to convert it into an electrical signal, which is digital -- a string of 0s and 1s. This is then converted into an analog electrical signal -- one where the voltage rises and falls smoothly
over time -- before being shunted into the switching fabric."
jbabik
jbabik
12/4/2012 | 8:23:07 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
Can I assume that the OMO switch would be able to groom below the lamda level?
How will it stack up against the CoreDirector?
braddillman
braddillman
12/4/2012 | 8:23:03 PM
re: Tellium Gets Some Competition
I don't assume it can do grooming. How could it, if it's millimeter-wave analog? Also, why does it convert from optical->digital->analog->digital->optical? Why not optical->analog->optical?
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