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Huawei joins imec to research silicon photonics

Huawei has joined imec, the Belgium nano-electronics research centre, to develop optical interconnect using silicon photonics technology. The strategic agreement follows Huawei's 2013 acquisition of former imec silicon photonics spin-off, Caliopa.


Source: Gazettabyte

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Mobile fronthaul: A Q&A with LightCounting's John Lively

LightCounting Market Research' s report finds that mobile fronthaul networks will use over 14 million optical transceivers in 2014, resulting in a market valued at US $530 million. This is roughly the size to the FTTX market. However, unlike FTTX, sales of fronthaul transceivers will nearly double in the next five years, to exceed $900 million. A Q&A with LightCounting's principal analyst, John Lively.

Q. What is mobile fronthaul?

There is a simple explanation for mobile front-haul but that belies how complicated it is.

The equipment manufacturers got together about 10 years ago and came up with the idea to separate the functionality within a base station. The idea is that if you separate the functionality into two parts, you can move some of it to the tower and thereby reduce the equipment, power and space needed in the hut below. That is the distributed base station.

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Books in 2014 - Part 2

More book recommendations, from Infonetics Research's Andrew Schmitt and ADVA Optical Networking's Ulrich Kohn.


Andrew Schmitt, principal analyst for carrier transport networking at Infonetics Research

It has been a bit of a thin year for me. And what I’ve read is a little outside the job. It seems like with all of the new media at hand I make less time for long-form consumption.

My wife is a big rower and I bought The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown for her. But then someone recommended it to me and I started reading it before she could. It is a fantastic underdog story about the University of Washington crew team and their road to the Berlin Olympics. It has lots of colour of what 1920's and 1930's America was like and it does a good job of conveying the subtleties of the sport. The central character has everything in life stacked against him but relies on a bottomless ability to suffer both in and out of the boat to grind his way towards a goal. There is so much vivid detail about the personalities and the races that I am slightly skeptical about whether it was all accurate but a fantastic read nonetheless.

Probably my favourite book of 2014 was Zero to One: Notes on startups, or how to build the future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one to mention it. It is like the anti-business book, blowing up all of the conventional thoughts surrounding start-ups and makes for a refreshing read. Excellent signal-to-noise ratio. I suppose Blake Masters deserves more credit than he has received for canning the thoughts of Peter Thiel in a very readable way.

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OpenCL and the reconfigurable data centre

Part 3: General purpose data centres

Xilinx's adoption of the Open Computing Language (OpenCL) as part of its SDAccel development tool is important, not just for FPGAs but also for the computational capabilities of the data centre.

The FPGA vendor is promoting its chips as server co-processors to tackle complex processing tasks such as image searches, encryption, and custom computation.   

Search-engine specialists such as Baidu and Microsoft have seen a greater amount of traffic for image and video searches in the last two years, says Loring Wirbel, senior analyst at market research firm, The Linley Group: "All of a sudden they are seeing that these accelerator cards as being necessary for general-purpose data centres."

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What role FPGA server co-processors for virtual routing?

Part 2:  Accelerating virtual routing functions using FPGAs

IP routing specialists have announced first virtual edge router products that run on servers. These include Alcatel-Lucent with its Virtualized Service Router and Juniper with its vMX. Gazettabyte asked Alcatel-Lucent's Steve Vogelsang about the impact FPGA accelerator cards could have on IP routing.


Steve Vogelsang, IP routing and transport CTO, Alcatel-Lucent

The co-processor cards in servers could become interesting for software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV).

The main challenge is that we require that our virtualised network functions (vNFs) and SDN data plane can run on any cloud infrastructure; we can’t assume that any specific accelerator card is installed. That makes it a challenge.

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FPGAs embrace data centre co-processing role

Part 1: Xilinx's SDAccel development tool

The PCIe accelerator card has a power budget of 25W. Hyper data centres can host hundreds of thousands of servers whereas other industries with more specialist computation requirements use far fewers servers. As such, they can afford a higher power budget per card. Source: Xilinx

Xilinx has developed a software-design environment that simplifies the use of an FPGA as a co-processor alongside the server's x86 instruction set microprocessor.

Dubbed SDAccel, the development environment enables a software engineer to write applications using OpenCL, C or the C++ programming language running on servers in the data centre.   

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Books in 2014 - Part 1

Gazettabyte is asking various industry figures to recommend key books they have read this year.


Joe Berthold, vice president, network architecture at Ciena

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I really enjoyed The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable when I read it several years ago, so when I learned about Antifragile from a friend during a chat at an NSF workshop at the end of 2013 I decided to read it. He warned me that it was tough going at times. I enjoyed it so much I decided to reread The Black Swan and then also read Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets which I had not read. Then I went back and read Antifragile again. Yes, it was tough going at times, but I found it very worthwhile book to read and ponder.

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