Alcatel-Lucent Ventures into 400G Networking

Though 100 gigabit data transmission is still very new, technology is coming to quadruple it.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Mar 8, 2012
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As the demand for bandwidth continues to grow, so too are the technologies that help to deliver it. One such example is the new 400 gigabit per second photonic service engine (PSE) that was announced this week by Alcatel-Lucent.

The 400G PSE will initially be available for Alcatel-Lucent's 1830 Photonic Switch Platform, which is a DWDM optical networking platform. The 400G PSE isn't just about new 400G wavelengths, it can also help to optimize existing 100G traffic flows as well.

"For 100G applications we will be able to extend the reach from the current XR product of 2,000KM all the way to 3,000 KM," Dave Brown, director of Product Marketing for Alcatel-Lucent's optics portfolio, told InternetNews.com. The 100G XR (extended reach) card was just announced in December.

The 400G PSE can be viewed as a complementary technology to the 400 gigabit FP3 chip that Alcatel-Lucent announced in June of 2011 for its Ethernet portfolio. The FP3 is a 400G network processor that goes into Alcatel-Lucent's core routers for Ethernet transport.

"On the optical side, the photonic service engine is for Layer 1 optical transport," Brown said. "The relationship is that we have both pieces of the puzzle in terms of IP and optics."

In moving towards 400G support, Alcatel-Lucent is venturing into an area where standards have yet to be fully defined. 400G is something that both the ITU and IEEE are currently evaluating. A 400G card could also be used as a way to multiplex four 100G inputs for transport.

"The actual standards are probably one or two years away and in the meantime people can play with it and put it into their systems," Brown said.

The added advantage from a service provider perspective for both 100G and 400G is that it doesn't require the in-ground fiber to be replaced. As such, a provider can use the same fiber they have today that only deliver 10G traffic to potentially enable 400G traffic in the future.

"It's compatible with fiber that it's the ground now," Brown said. "That's the beauty of it, since it's based on the coherent technology and can operate side by side with 10G and 40G traffic that might already be on those lines."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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