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19 September 2008


Infinera PICs surpass 100m hours operation failure-free; 1 Petabit of DWDM capacity shipped

Infinera Corp of Sunnyvale, CA, USA, a vertically integrated manufacturer of digital optical network systems, says that its InP-based photonic integrated circuits (PICs) have surpassed a cumulative total of 100 million hours of operation in live networks worldwide without any PIC failures. Also, Infinera has now shipped more than 10,000 dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) line cards, representing more than one Petabit/second of network capacity.

Infinera’s PICs integrate 60 devices, including  lasers, modulators, photoreceivers and DWDM multiplexers  onto a pair of monolithic chips with a total capacity per chip of 100Gb/s. The firm claims that the high level of integration enables its optical systems to deliver advantages in scalability, cost, space consumption, power consumption, and reliability. It adds that its PICs' high reliability has been achieved by an early and sustained focus on design for manufacturability and carrier-grade reliability — designing PICs that deliver network benefits while showing high quality and cost-effectiveness in volume manufacture. Test results show that Infinera's transmit PIC, with 50 optical devices, has equivalent reliability to that of many single active optical components currently deployed in networks. At the network level, the PICs deliver improvements in network reliability and ease of use by eliminating more than 90% of fiber couplings (a major source of problems and outages in traditional optical networks).

Infinera reckons that its highly reliable manufacturing process has also helped it to improve its wafer fab's efficiency 60-fold since volume manufacture began in 2004. “It shows that photonic integrated circuits advance similarly to electronic integrated circuits, where silicon chips have been able to deliver very high quality while increasing complexity and functionality year after year, due to the learning curve in the manufacturing process,” comments chief marketing and strategy officer Dave Welch. “Just as there is a silicon learning curve, we are discovering there is a photonic learning curve.”

Earlier this year, Infinera unveiled plans for its next commercially produced PICs, with a data rate of 400/500Gb/s.  These are expected to have more than 200 integrated optical devices on a single chip. The firm foresees that further technical progress will enable continued scaling in PIC capacity, enabling a doubling of capacity per chip every three years.

Also, since beginning commercial shipments in late 2004, Infinera has shipped more than 10,000 DLM line cards. This equates to 100,000 DWDM wavelength ports operating at 10Gb/s of capacity, or a total DWDM network capacity of 1Petabit per second.  According to analyst firm Dell’Oro Group, Infinera ranked first in unit shipments of 10Gb/s long-haul DWDM wavelengths, with a 44% share of wavelengths shipped worldwide in Q2/2008.

“Infinera’s growth has been one of the fastest ramps in the history of the optical networking industry,” claims CEO Jagdeep Singh, who adds that vertical integration is a key competitive advantage. “Photonic integration is such an important technology that we expect other companies to enter this market eventually, with solutions based on large-scale photonic integration. However, most of our competitors do not have a components business in-house, and that makes it hard for them to develop their own photonic integration solutions,” he reckons.

Interest in photonic integration continues to rise throughout the optical networking industry, says Infinera. At the 34th European Conference and Exhibition on Optical Communication (ECOC 2008) on 21 September, Welch is speaking on the network-level benefits of photonic integration technology in a panel titled 'All-Optical versus OEO Networks'. On 25 September, Infinera's Brent Little will present a paper on the use of micro-ring resonators as tunable optical filters. On 7-8 October, Infinera executives will also speak at the conference 'Photonic Integration: The Path to the Optical Future' (sponsored by the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association). On 5 October,  a panel discussion at the Optical Expo conference 'Photonic Integration: Redefining Optical Cost, Scale & Performance' will be hosted by optical industry analyst Sterling Perrin (who, in March, published the report 'Photonic Integration and the Future of Optical Networking', which singled out Infinera as having a four-year lead in the technology).

“Photonic integration is the industry’s best hope for reducing the cost per bit in optical networks,” comments Sterling Perrin. “Operators will increasingly look to photonic integration as a way to build scalable, reliable, and cost-effective networks... this reliability milestone helps make the case for the long-term commercial viability of the PIC.”

See related items:

Infinera wins system order for Deutsche Telekom’s pan-European network

Infinera introduces passive PICs in new optical line system

Infinera targets PIC capacity of 4Tb/s within 10 years

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