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Wednesday
Feb272019

Inphi adds a laser driver to its 100-gigabit PAM-4 DSP 

Inphi has detailed its second-generation Porrima chip family for 100-gigabit single-wavelength optical module designs.

Source: Inphi

The Porrima family of devices is targeted at the 400G DR4 and 400G FR4 specifications as well as 100-gigabit module designs that use 100-gigabit 4-level pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM-4). Indeed, the two module types can be combined when a 400-gigabit pluggable such as a QSFP-DD or an OSFP is used in breakout mode to feed four 100-gigabit modules using such form factors as the QSFP, uQSFP or SFP-DD.

The Gen2 family has been launched a year after the company first announced the Porrima. The original 400-gigabit and 100-gigabit Porrima designs each have three ICs: a PAM-4 digital signal processor (DSP), a trans-impedance amplifier (TIA) and a laser-driver. 

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Thursday
Feb212019

Ayar Labs prepares for the era of co-packaged optics 

The first of two articles on co-packaged optics.

Part 1: Ayar Labs

Ayar Labs is readying its co-packaged optics technology for scaled production in the second half of 2020. So says CEO Charlie Wuischpard who joined the start-up in late 2018 after it secured $24 million in funding to bring its products to market.

Co-packaged optics refers to the intimate coupling of optics with an ASIC in one package. Such tightly-coupled optics promises to overcome the growing system challenges associated with linking an ASIC’s high-speed signals to pluggable optics residing on a platform’s faceplate.

Charlie Wuischpard Wuischpard joined Ayar Labs from Intel where he led the supercomputing segment within the company’s data centre group. Wuischpard also led Intel’s disaggregated rack initiative.

“In both these, silicon photonics plays a huge role in enabling future architectures and future designs,” he says.

Ayar Labs raised its funding after demonstrating successfully its optical designs: a silicon-photonics optical chiplet, dubbed Teraphy, and its Supernova external laser source. 

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Friday
Feb152019

Richard Wilson

An important part of my career as a journalist was spent at the UK newspaper, Electronics Weekly.

The editor at the time was Richard Wilson. For several years I sat opposite him; despite having an office, Richard worked with us all. It was an exciting time to be covering the chip industry and we all worked hard. Richard was a wonderful boss and a great conversationalist.

I remember his joy the day after the Labour Party won the UK election in 1997 and he described how he had not slept watching the results come in (and the following day was a news day!)

He was a lovely, gentle man. I often wondered what he was doing at Electronics Weekly. He was a talented journalist and loved the complexities of the electronics industry but he had many interests and talents that were not given expression in that environment.

Electronics Weekly wasn’t always an easy workplace but I look back at those years and think it was the most vibrant place I’ve worked at. The place was filled with characters and Richard added to the pleasure of being there.

I think of Richard with huge fondness and am grateful to have known him. I last saw him in 2003 but despite the elapsed time, I feel his loss deeply.

Tuesday
Feb052019

A voyage around work

The first in a series looking at the experience of work in 2019.

Source: Mark Seery

To land your ideal job, the suggestion is first to find your passion. Indeed, one college in the US promises to guide its students to find their life purpose by teaching them three things: what they are good at, what they are passionate about, and what the world needs.

Assuming you are lucky enough to align all three elements, challenges are still likely. How do you maintain a work-life balance? And what happens over time when, despite having fulfilling, challenging work, part of your creative self remains untapped?

This has been the experience of Mark Seery (pictured below), who was a senior staff member at Juniper Networks, responsible for helping shape the networking company’s strategy.

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Friday
Jan182019

Kim Roberts: The 2019 John Tyndall Award winner

A Profile

A conceptualiser, mathematician, furniture maker, prolific inventor, sushi lover, creative spirit, team leader and mentor. These are just some of the descriptors applied to Kim Roberts of Ciena by the people that know him. 

Kim Roberts of Ciena. On the wall are some of his 160 patents while on the screen is an image of a 32-point constellation produced by the WaveLogic Ai coherent modem. Source: Ciena.

Roberts has been awarded the 2019 John Tyndall Award by The Optical Society (OSA) and the IEEE Photonics Society in recognition of his “pioneering contributions to the development of practical coherent communication systems”.

“It is well deserved,” says Seb Savory, who first knew Roberts when they both worked at Nortel and who is now an academic at the University of Cambridge working on joint projects with Ciena. Ciena acquired Nortel in 2010.

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Wednesday
Jan162019

Access drives a need for 10G compact aggregation boxes

Infinera has unveiled a platform to aggregate multiple 10-gigabit traffic streams originating in the access network. 

The 1.6-terabit HDEA 1600G platform is designed to aggregate 80, 10-gigabit wavelengths. The use of ten-gigabit wavelengths in access continues to grow with the advent of 5G mobile backhaul and developments in cable and passive optical networking (PON).


A distributed access architecture being embraced by cable operators. Shown are the remote PHY device (RPD) or remote MAC-PHY device (RMD), functionality moved out of the secondary hub and closer to the end user. Also shown is how DWDM technology is moved closer to the edge of the network. Source: Infinera.

Infinera has adopted a novel mechanical design for its 1 rack unit (1RU) HDEA 1600G that uses the sides of the platform to fit 80 SFP+ optical modules. 

The platform also features an Ethernet switch chip that aggregates the traffic from the 10-gigabit streams to fill 100-gigabit wavelengths that are passed to other switching or transport platforms for transmission into the network.

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Sunday
Dec302018

Books in 2018 - Part 3

More books read in 2018, as recommended by Steve Alexander and Yves LeMaitre.

Steve Alexander, senior vice president and CTO, Ciena 

I was standing in line at a Starbucks and was chatting with another person who asked what all these engineers were doing talking about networks of submarines. In fact, it was a nearby conference on submarine cables. The person said: “I thought that’s what satellites were for”.

I wanted to find a book I could point people to who think that satellites carry most of the international traffic when, in fact, it is the fibre-optic submarine cables that carry the vast majority of the world’s communications. I came up with The Undersea Network by Nicole Starosielski.

Our industry does such a good job at this that most people don’t even know such networks exist. It is like air; it is there and it works.

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