Optical Networking Featured Article

Advanced Optical System to Benefit Next-Gen Data Center Networks

October 13, 2017

When network capacity is pushed to its limits, it is bound to slow down, even crash entirely. For users, the result is slower connectivity speeds and deteriorating service quality, leaving them distressed. A push is placed on the providers and their vendors to figure out new ways to accelerate service.

With the consistent growth in network traffic, physical limits of current optical networking have been pushed to a breaking point, especially with the use of basic single-mode fiber (SMF). SMFs set capacity limits so SDM technology, which includes MCFs, proposed an elimination of traditional limits. This would help with granularity and increase clarity through transmission.

As it is now, optical networks can change wavelength channels to offer time continuity. Yet, it is actually small packets doing the transmitting which is an overall enhancement while reducing energy consumption. But, is that enough to satisfy users?

The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) did not think so, and envisioned a much more advanced system. Specifically, it developed a high-speed seven-core joint optical switching system that can switch all the cores of an MCF simultaneously with an ultrafast switching speed of 80 ns. Multiple electro-absorption (EA) optical switch elements with several nanoseconds switching speed add to the package.

Full packet granularity is now achievable. A testbed was utilized to achieve the highest and most productive network. The testbed used 64 wavelength channels, modulated at 32 Giga Baud with polarization division multiplexing (PDM) quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK). The result was delivery capacity of 53.3 terabits per second.

The testbed had three MCF segments: one 19-core 28 km, one 19-core 10 km fiber, a 7-core 2 km fiber line. The results showed immense progress but NCIT is in the progress of going even further with the optical network to gain even faster speeds. 

Edited by Erik Linask

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