Optical Networking Featured Article

Software Approach Sets Optical Speed Record

April 12, 2016

Olympic great Mark Spitz is credited with saying, “Records are meant to be broken,” and with the data center’s fixation on optimum performance powering an industry-wide need for speed it should come as no surprise that Hong Kong Polytechnic University set a world record for the fastest optical communications in the data center  via a software approach.

The mark PolyU set; 240Gbit/s over a distance of two kilometers is 24 times that of anything available on the market today. An industry-wide hurdle for optical is distortion, as over longer distances and at higher speeds it can become the data center equivalent to a game of telephone.

The team at PolyU explained there is an order to the chaos of the interactions between cable and signal. “Through performing big data statistical analysis of massive amounts of transmitted and received light signals, we can identify the distortion pattern, and a considerable reversion of distortion can be made,” PolyU says. Once the distortion issue met with resolution, transmission speed could be accelerated without further problems.

The solution is ready for implementation on a commercial level, and according to the school has cut the cost of data transmission by three-fourths in comparison with existing solutions.

In a statement by PolyU it notes, "by combining optics and statistics, the algorithm software developed by PolyU enables simpler, cheaper and commercially favorable solutions with world-record breaking speeds for next generation data center applications.”

Optical transmissions carry data, voice, video, etc, and in recent months we’ve seen a bevy of news on this quickly growing area of innovation. The reason is simple, optical transport can quench the growing data center thirst for speed as well as performance.

It is clear the future is software-based, as cost and time savings coupled with automation and improved overall performance is tough to pass on, and this announcement is yet another reminder of how software is enabling the network of tomorrow, today.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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