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Ciena debuts chips, architecture for a web-scale world

Ciena has released a broad array of new products to address the requirements of what it calls the ‘web-scale world’. These include a pair of new coherent chipsets, a new metro network architecture and service delivery switches for small cell mobile backhaul.

The new products are designed to deliver expansive bandwidth, operational efficiency and network agility – characteristics needed in networks dominated by applications such as cloud computing, network virtualisation and openness, according to Ciena.

The products primarily address metro and regional reaches, but some have applications that extend into long-haul and submarine networks. Ciena says this reflects the fact that no operator will escape the impact that cloud service providers are having on the network.

Originally described by Gartner Research last year, the concept of web-scale IT is predicted to be an architectural approach found operating in 50 per cent of global enterprises by 2017, up from less than 10 per cent in 2013.

By supporting the concepts of web-scale IT in networking, Ciena says it is arming network providers to take advantage of the trends associated with this web-scale dynamic.

“It’s clear that the massive growth of data centres, cloud and virtualisation are overtaxing today’s network infrastructures and exposing their inflexibility. But these challenges also provide a blueprint for where networks must evolve,” said Steve Alexander, senior vice president and CTO, Ciena.

First up is Ciena’s new WaveLogic 3 Extreme chipset, which provides maximum bandwidth at any distance for Ciena’s 6500 and 5430 converged packet optical platforms. In addition to the widely deployed QPSK and BPSK formats supported by WaveLogic 3, the new WaveLogic 3 Extreme chipset supports a second-generation 16QAM coherent modulation for high-bandwidth metro and regional applications and a patent-pending 8D-2QAM modulation for extreme long-distance submarine applications.

The 16QAM format supports 200G wavelengths in the same amount of spectrum as today’s 100G links (50GHz). Ciena says a unique aspect of the WaveLogic 3 Extreme chipset is its ability to extend 16QAM capacity and spectral efficiency benefits from metro to regional distances to meet the growing need for data centre interconnect.

The 8D-2QAM format, when combined with flexible grid technology, enables up to 85 per cent greater capacity in submarine networks compared to the more commonly deployed BPSK format. The technology has already been deployed by Verizon, Southern Cross, Japan-US Cable Network and Trans Pacific Express (see Verizon lights up 200G long-haul link with Ciena).

The second new chipset, the WaveLogic 3 Nano, recognises that some web-scale applications need power and space efficiency more than they need raw capacity. The WaveLogic 3 Nano is ideal for metro economics, the company claims, allowing high 100G densities in a much smaller footprint with lower electrical power consumption. It will be implemented across Ciena’s 6500 and 8700 platforms, with availability this summer.

To enable these improvements, Ciena has combined the transmit and receive integrated circuits onto a single chip, by moving to the latest silicon processing node. The chromatic dispersion capability has been dialled down to suit metro and regional distances to reduce the number of logic gates required and hence reduce power consumption. And, on the optics side, Ciena says it has shrunk the electro-optical components into smaller packages.

Ciena also unveiled the Coherent Select photonic architecture, which is aimed at increasing flexibility in metro networks. Leveraging sophisticated software, Coherent Select exploits the native receiver tunability of WaveLogic chipsets to implement a ‘broadcast and select’ architecture. The coherent receiver is simply programmed to listen for the desired wavelength.

This approach offers a similar benefits to a wavelength-selective switch (WSS) based reconfigurable  architecture, but at a price point closer to that of a fixed passive filter network, according to Ciena. From a business case perspective, this simpler connectivity model will make it easier for service providers to justify deploying 100G connections closer to the edges of the network, the company says.

Finally, Ciena’s enhanced mobile backhaul products will help mobile operators and wholesale backhaul providers to rapidly deploy wireless small cells, both indoor and outdoor. Ciena says the new 3904 and 3905 Service Delivery Switches will ensure the backhaul portion of the small cell radio antennas is always available and that service level agreements are maintained.

“Internet content providers are driving a boost in telecom spending and the way services are delivered. This, in turn, is changing the requirements of network providers of all kinds – whether they are traditional telecom service providers, OTT providers or data centre firms. Ciena is making the needed investments to build unique and compelling solutions to solve these specific problems – like lower cost metro 100G and architectures that scale in both physical size and programmability,” said Andrew Schmitt, principal analyst, carrier transport networking, Infonetics Research.

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