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Silicon Photonics

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Entries in data centre interconnect (7)


Enabling coherent optics down to 2km short-reach links

Silicon photonics luminaries series

Interview 5: Chris Doerr

Chris Doerr admits he was a relative latecomer to silicon photonics. But after making his first silicon photonics chip, he was hooked. Nearly a decade later and Doerr is associate vice president of integrated photonics at Acacia Communications. The company uses silicon photonics for its long-distance optical coherent transceivers.


Chris Doerr in the lab

Acacia Communications made headlines in May after completing an initial public offering (IPO), raising approximately $105 million for the company. Technology company IPOs have become a rarity and are not always successful. On its first day of trading, Acacia’s shares opened at $29 per share and closed just under $31.

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The white box concept gets embraced at the optical layer

Lumentum has unveiled several optical white-box designs. To date the adoption of white boxes - pizza-box sized platforms used in large-scale data centres - has been at the electronic layer, for switching and routing applications.


Brandon Collings

White boxes have arisen to satisfy the data centre operators’ need for simple building-block functions in large number that they can direct themselves.  

“They [data centre operators] started using very simple white boxes - rather simple functionality, much simpler than the large router companies were providing - which they controlled themselves using software-defined networking orchestrators,” says Brandon Collings, CTO of Lumentum. 

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OFC 2016: a sample of the technical paper highlights

Optical transmission technologies, Flexible Ethernet, software-defined networking, CFP2-ACOs and silicon photonics are just some of the topics at this year's OFC 2016 conference to be held in Anaheim, California between March 20th and 24th. 

Here is a small sample of the technical paper highlights being presented at the conference.

Doubling core network capacity 

Microsoft has conducted a study measuring the performance of its North American core backbone network to determine how the use of bandwidth-variable transceivers (BVTs) could boost capacity.

The highest capacity modulation scheme suited for each link from the choice of polarisation-multiplexed, quadrature phase-shift keying (PM-QPSK), polarisation-multiplexed, 8 quadrature amplitude modulation (PM-8QAM) and PM-16QAM can then be used.

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MultiPhy readies 100 Gigabit serial direct-detection chip

MultiPhy is developing a chip that will support serial 100 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) transmission using 25 Gig optical components. The device will enable short reach links within the data centre and up to 80km point-to-point links for data centre interconnect. The fabless chip company expects to have first samples of the chip, dubbed FlexPhy, by year-end.

Figure 1: A block diagram of the 100 Gig serial FlexPhy. The transmitter output is an electrical signal that is fed to the optics. Equally, the input to the receive path is an electrical signal generated by the receiver optics. Source: Gazettabyte

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Cyan's stackable optical rack for data centre interconnent 

Demand for high-capacity links between data centres is creating a new class of stackable optical platform from equipment makers. Cyan has unveiled the N-Series, what it calls an open hyperscale transport platform. "It is a hardware and software system specifically for data centre interconnect," says Joe Cumello, Cyan's chief marketing officer. Cyan's announcement follows on from Infinera, which detailed its Cloud Xpress platform last year.


"The drivers for these [data centre] guys every day of the week is lowest cost-per-gigabit"

Joe Cumello





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North American operators in an optical spending rethink 

Optical transport spending by the North American operators dropped 13 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2014, according to market research firm Dell'Oro Group.

Operators are rethinking the optical vendors they buy equipment from as they consider their future networks. "Software-defined networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) - all the futuristic next network developments, operators are considering what that entails," says Jimmy Yu, vice president of optical transport research at Dell’Oro. "Those decisions have pushed out spending."

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Global optical networking market set for solid growth

Source: Ovum

The global optical networking market will grow at a year-over-year rate of 5 percent through 2019. So claims market research firm, Ovum, in its optical networking forecast for 2013 to 2019. North America will lead the market growth, with data centre deployments and demand for 100 Gigabit being the main drivers.

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