WASHINGTON, Feb. 28—With worldwide Internet data traffic increasing by 50 percent each year, telecommunications companies that handle this digital torrent must be able to economically expand the capacities of their networks while also adapting to new, more-efficient data-handling technologies. Over the last decade, a development team at Infinera Corp. in Sunnyvale, Calif. has pioneered the design and manufacture of photonic integrated circuits (PICs) aimed at meeting that need. This technology has enabled the team to achieve a record one trillion bits per second (1 Terabit/s) speed on a single integrated indium phosphide chip. The findings will be presented at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC) taking place March 6 – 10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
"Traditional transponder-based system architectures are inflexible and costly and time-consuming to upgrade," said Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagarajan, research fellow at Infinera and a senior member of Infinera's PIC development team. "Our PIC approach enables us to make optical networks more powerful, flexible and reliable than ever before using equipment that is significantly smaller, less expensive and uses much less energy."
Infinera's latest PIC is at the heart of a new 10-channel receiver, each channel operating at 100 Gbit/s data rates. This is the first in the industry to achieve a capacity of 1 Terabit/s on a single photonic integrated chip. It contains more than 150 optical components—such as frequency tunable local oscillator (LO) lasers, devices for mixing the LO and incoming signals, variable optical attenuators for LO power control, a spectral demultiplexer to separate the individual wavelength channels, and 40 balanced photodetector (receiver/transmitter) pairs—all integrated onto a chip smaller than a fingernail.
The key technical advance operating behind 100-Gbit/s-per-channel technology is the ability to detect incoming data encoded using the optical industry's most spectrally efficient modulation technique, called polarization multiplexed Quadrature Phase-Shift Keying, or PM-QPSK. To explain the acronym, first PM: it is similar to the wireless communications technique of alternating the polarization of adjacent channels. How does QSPK work? In virtually all types of data transmission, the information is encoded in ways that allow it to travel the farthest while occupying the least amount of signal spectrum. Just as radio's AM (amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) imprints information on, respectively, the amplitude and frequency of its broadcast waves, QPSK modifies the light's phase to represent the data. All in all, PM-QPSK permits four times more information to be conveyed each second than was possible with the previous method, which simply switched the laser light on and off.
The news here is not about the PM-QPSK modulation scheme per se, but rather that Infinera has, for the first time, integrated it all onto a single 10x100 Gbit/s photonic integrated circuit.
"But just as important as a transmitter's clever and efficient encoding method is a fast and reliable way for the receiver to convert the information back to its original form," said Dr. Nagarajan. "For PM-QPSK, we designed and integrated narrow-linewidth lasers that detect the phase encoded data very efficiently."
Infinera expects PICs with a capability of a terabit or more to be commercially available within a few years. The company has announced that a 500 Gbit/s PIC will be available in 2012. Infinera's 100 Gbit/s PICs are widely deployed in long-haul and metro networks worldwide.
Transmitter and receiver PICs are typically installed at critical nodes and at each end of "long haul" optical networks. Like non-stop flights between airline hubs, these intercity and intercontinental optical fiber links carry the bulk of Internet traffic. Worldwide, more than 20 exabytes—20 trillion trillion bytes (or 160 exabits)—have been estimated to pass through the Internet every month.
PICs enable massive amounts of cost-effective bandwidth and facilitate the networks at the heart of the Internet to become more scalable and quicker to react to sudden changes in demand. "In many ways, PIC-based optical networks are starting to take on the intelligent features of routed (IP) networks, like the ability to reroute traffic in the event of a break in the fiber—but at a fraction of the cost and power consumption," Dr. Nagarajan added.
Dr. Nagarajan's presentation at OFC/NFOEC, titled "10-channel, 100Gbit/sec per channel dual polarization coherent QPSK, monolithic InP receiver photonic integrated circuit," will take place Monday, March 7 at 3:15 p.m. in the Los Angeles Convention Center.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Journalists are invited to attend the meeting. Registration is available on the OFC/NFOEC website or by contacting Angela Stark, email@example.com, 202.416.1443.
Since 1975, the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC) has provided an annual backdrop for the optical communications field to network and share research and innovations. In 2005, OFC joined forces with the National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (NFOEC) creating the largest and most comprehensive international event for optical communications. By combining an exposition of more than 500 companies, with a unique program of peer-reviewed technical programming and special focused educational sessions, OFC/NFOEC provides an unparalleled opportunity reaching every audience from service providers to optical equipment manufacturers and beyond.
OFC/NFOEC, www.ofcnfoec.org, is managed by the Optical Society (OSA) and co-sponsored by OSA, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/Communications Society (IEEE/ComSoc) and the IEEE Photonics Society. Acting as a non-financial technical co-sponsor is Telcordia Technologies, Inc.
Infinera provides Digital Optical Networking systems to telecommunications carriers worldwide. Infinera's systems are unique in their use of a breakthrough semiconductor technology: the photonic integrated circuit (PIC). Infinera's systems and PIC technology are designed to provide customers with simpler and more flexible engineering and operations, faster time-to-service, and the ability to rapidly deliver differentiated services without reengineering their optical infrastructure. For more information, please visit http://www.infinera.com/.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements based on current expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements are based on information available to Infinera as of the date hereof; and actual results could differ materially from those stated or implied, due to risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding Infinera's expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including that Infinera pioneered the design and manufacture of photonic integrated circuits (PICs); that this technology has enabled the team to achieve a record one trillion bits per second (1 Terabit/s) speed on a single integrated indium phosphide chip; that the PIC approach enables us to make optical networks more powerful, flexible and intelligent than ever before using equipment that is significantly smaller, less expensive and uses much less energy; that Infinera's latest PIC is at the heart of a new 10-channel receiver, each channel operating at 100 Gbit/s rates; that this is the first in the industry to achieve a capacity of 1 Terabit/s on a single photonic integrated chip; that the 100-Gbit/s-per-channel technology uses the optical industry's most spectrally efficient modulation technique; that Infinera expects PICs with a capability of a terabit or more to be commercially available within a few years and that a 500 Gbit/s PIC will be available in 2012; that PICs enable massive amounts of cost-effective bandwidth and facilitate the networks at the heart of the Internet to become more scalable and quicker to react to sudden changes in demand; that optical networks are starting to take on the best features of routed (IP) networks, but at a fraction of the cost and power consumption. Such forward-looking statements can be identified by forward-looking words such as "anticipated," "believed," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "should," "will," and "would" or similar words. The risks and uncertainties that could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements include aggressive business tactics by our competitors, our dependence on a single product, our ability to protect our intellectual property, claims by others that we infringe their intellectual property, and our ability to respond to rapid technological changes, and other risks that may impact any of the group's business are set forth in their annual reports on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on March 1, 2010, as well as subsequent reports filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission. These statements are based on information available to us as of the date hereof and we disclaim any obligation to update the forward-looking statements included in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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