Xros's OFC Splash Was All Wet

Remember how Xros Inc http://www.xros.com caused such a commotion at the Optical Fiber Conference (OFC) exhibition last March, when it showed the first ever all-optical switch to beat the 1,000 port barrier?

The switch certainly looked enormous on Xros's booth, but now the truth is trickling out. Only a small portion of it was operational. Quite how small a proportion is unclear. "We were passing 24 live channels through the core, which was of course, significantly larger than 24 by 24," says Greg Reznick, Xros's president and CEO.

"I told all who asked that were demonstrating a prototype core that was less than 1K by 1K," Reznick adds. "It was designed to be an effective illustration of what we will be delivering and a live demonstration of the technology in action."

Since Xros staged its big show at OFC - and since Nortel Networks http://www.nortelnetworks.com agreed to buy it for $3.25 billion - a number of other startups have emerged with plans to build 1,000-port-plus all-optical switches based on MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems).

The latest one to poke its head above the parapet is C Speed Corp http://wwwcspeed.com, which is developing subsystems capable of scaling to 1,000 plus ports. Right now, it has a 32 by 32 port subsystem, but plans to have a 256 by 256 prototype by the first quarter of next year, according to Mark Fling, C Speed's CEO. The company has been in existence since 1997 but has kept a low profile.

Other startups following in Xros's footsteps include Optical Micro-Machines Inc. (OMM) http://www.omminc.com (see Startup To Upstage Xros on All-Optical Switches) and Onix Microsystems Inc.(no web site, see Startup Prepares Secret Switch ).

by Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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