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Infinera generates some buzz: To infinite capacity and beyond

Infinera is planning to shoot straight past the terabit benchmark to reach multi-terabit capacity with its next generation of optical transmission technology. The company has disclosed details of the ‘Infinite Capacity Engine’, an optical subsystem capable of providing up to 2.4Tb/s of capacity in a single package roughly the size of the credit cards in your wallet.

“We are taking optical transport to the next level with the Infinite Capacity Engine. It’s the first multi-terabit optical subsystem,” claimed Pravin Mahajan, director of product and corporate marketing at Infinera.

The technology will power the next generation of Infinera’s Intelligent Network Transport platforms, due to be announced later this year. The company intends to use the new photonic engine in existing platforms, but is also developing new platforms to suit different applications, according to Mahajan.

This means there will be a new family of photonic engines, each optimised around different market requirements, including subsea and terrestrial, long haul, metro and data centre interconnect.

The Infinite Capacity Engine will combine the advanced electronics of an all-new FlexCoherent digital signal processor (DSP) chipset built in 28nm silicon with Infinera’s much-anticipated fourth-generation photonic integrated circuit (PIC).

Together these components will enable significantly greater capacity while slashing power consumption and footprint. Infinera claims a 70 per cent reduction in Watts per Gb/s for the new PIC and a fourfold increase in capacity per mm2 compared to its previous product generation based on the 500G PIC.

Although product details are not being released at this stage, the company did provide an example reference design for a platform that consumes 12kW while supporting up to 24Tb/s of capacity in a single 42-rack unit chassis. The 12kW is a key point of reference because data centre racks are constrained by their power requirements. Some 75 per cent of racks in data centres need 12kW or less, according to Mahajan.

Developed in-house, the new FlexCoherent processor will implement Infinera’s Advanced Coherent Toolkit (ACT), which was unveiled back in January. This processor will offer a wide range of software-selectable modulation schemes that can be applied to each carrier individually as well as Nyquist subcarriers, a pulse-shaping technology that increases tolerance of non-linear effects (see Infinera claims industry breakthrough with Nyquist WDM).

The new coherent processor will provide a coding gain of 11.9dB, which operators can use to extend the reach of their networks or apply higher-order modulation schemes in order to go faster. The improvement in capacity-distance performance can be as much as 60 per cent, the company claims. These enhancements will also enable transmission over distances up to 12,000km, enough to support the longest cable either in service or that could be imagined.

Infinera is also adding Layer 1 optical encryption to its FlexCoherent processor, to securely encrypt the entire in-flight data stream with virtually no added latency. Encryption can be applied in bulk to an entire optical super-channel or on a per-service basis, which the company claims will be unique in the industry.

While much of the complexity in optics has moved to the electronics, the PIC remains Infinera’s pièce de resistance, which no other company has been able to match.

The upcoming photonic engine will offer 12 optical carriers, replacing hundreds of components with a pair of monolithically integrated chips made in indium phosphide (one PIC to transmit and one to receive). The aggregate capacity of the engine depends on which modulation schemes are applied to the carriers, but will max out at 12 channels each running at 200Gb/s.

The new engine will also support ‘Sliceable Photonics’, which allows the massive pool of capacity to be divided up into 100G increments, allowing each slice to be tuned to any position on the wavelength grid and routed to a different location.

New platforms based on the Infinite Capacity Engine will continue to support the deployment and provisioning features found in Infinera’s current generation of products. The engine provides a massive pool of capacity, ready to be deployed when and where operators need it, in as little as an hour; whereas, it could take weeks or months to deploy bandwidth with a competing product, the company claims.

Infinera Instant Bandwidth and the temporary licence option, Time-based Instant Bandwidth, enable the pre-deployment of bandwidth that is service-ready and can be provisioned on-demand in 100-Gb/s increments with simple software activation. Carriers can also write their own software-defined networking (SDN) enabled applications to control provisioning, via standards-based open APIs.

“The Infinera Infinite Capacity Engine ushers in a new era in optical transport networking and is the foundation for network operators to rapidly respond to massive bandwidth demands,” commented Dave Welch, Infinera co-founder and president. “The Infinite Capacity Engine serves as the fundamental building block for the Infinera Intelligent Transport Network portfolio and we plan to introduce customised engines designed for various network applications, far exceeding comparable industry implementations in performance.”



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