Infinera + all-optical = ?

June 11th, 2008 by · 4 Comments

Yesterday, news reports surfaced about Infinera's new product line that will be released at NXTComm next week.  It turns out, that the company that rejuvenated OEO (Optical-Electrical-Optical) switching with the photonic integrated circuit (PIC) is now incorporating all-optical features into it.  Included are Raman amplification for reach up to 2500km (at 10Gbps) and an 'optical express' capability to allow some traffic to avoid the very OEO transition they have made cheap.  What gives?

Well to put it simply, Infinera is telling us that they may have initially focused on OEO, but their innovation is and always has been integration of many components onto a chip, thus making what we already know how to do cheaper and more scalable.  They don't actually care how people design the network - they are going to give them the tools regardless.   Until now their PICs have been like tinkertoys - wonderful digital pieces but not very long ones - the overall cost reductions in populated regions more than compensated for the long stretches (e.g. Denver to Las Vegas) where it wasn't as optimal.  Now?  Even better, you can now use the short tinker toys on the east coast, and mix and match the new extra long ones out west where it makes lots of sense.  So NYC-Philadelphia is a single digital circuit, but so is Denver to Seattle.  It's still digital, it's just that distance matters less.

As an engineer, I find this to be a very elegant resolution to the OEO/OOO religious war.  Using the same equipment, one can design their network however one pleases and let the marketplace sort out which way is best.  I wonder what George Gilder, he of the all-optical vision, is thinking about this?

Categories: Internet Backbones

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4 Comments So Far


  • The_highwyman says:

    Gilder!?!?…we don’t need no stinking Gilder….

    I would imagine Gilder is trying to get some free bones tossed his way from Infinera so he can endorse them….

    this new feature is going to turn it all upside down imagine less truck rolls, and other cost savings, especially now with USA fuel high….

    As an engineer myself, what Infinera has done is really cool and as you stated very elegant….

    We you look at how ethernet is changing the netowrk dynmaic and now getting QoS mechanisms in place that could be better than IP, we are seeing another shift in the network landscape…buy some Infinera and use ethernet and the cost to transport all that video is getting cheaper by the day…

  • Frank A. Coluccio says:

    I guess you missed my message to this blog of last night when you posted this entry (above), concerning not only Infinera’s ULH release, but its newfound ways of using passives, as well: http://tinyurl.com/4eq94r

    As for GG, when Infinera first came onto the scene George was solidly behind a few all-optical pure plays, such as Avanex, Essex and Corvis (to the extent that one could consider Corvis purely all-optical), but later came around to the merits of INFR, and as far as I know he owns some of its stock.

    But it appears that his earlier stance on the all optical paradigm, whether correctly interpreted or not, has nonetheless apparently survived to this day and overshadowed any awareness he may have acquired of EDC/OEO/etc., which is a topic we debated a half-dozen years ago in his optical forum.

    As George has been known to express, there will always be a need for electronics for some of the more servile tasks 😉

  • Rob Powell says:

    I did read that comment as well, but I had already written this article and I am still digesting the article on passives. Thanks Frank.

  • tech101 says:

    Rember David Huber – the founder of Ciena, Corvis/Broadwing, and the god father of longhaul (with Raman amplifier) optical?

    Infinera inherited (or traded/exchanged) that gift from Dr. Huber, I believe.

    Good job.

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