Infinera is making its play for the metro optical sector with two new PICS (photonic integrated circuits) that will make its PIC-based superchannel optical solution granular enough for the metro.
On Monday Infinera unveiled its “sliceable photonics” technology, which essentially proposes to provide metro links with 500G superchannels that can be sliced up at the hub and rerouted. The new ePIC-500 provides sliceable 500G capacity at the hub location, while the oPIC-100 provides 100G capacity at the spoke location.
“A superchannel usually just connects Point A to Point B. This new solution gives you the ability to take a 100G chunk of that capacity and send it to a different end point,” explains Geoff Bennett, director of solutions and technology at Infinera. “So you would have an ePIC 500 creating the superchannel, and an oPIC 100 at the other end to catch that redirected 100G slice.”
The main advantage of this approach is the ability to put 500G line cards in the metro and split up the bandwidth however you want. Other vendors are approaching the metro from the other direction – i.e. with 100G optical links that scale up to 200G and 400G. But Infinera claims their approach is more efficient, in part because its integrated PIC technology means fewer components and line cards (which translates to lower capex).
According to Bennett, it also means lower opex via lower power consumption (up to 31% less compared to conventional metro optical solutions) and fewer truck rolls to send engineers to add wavelength capacity when it runs out. Infinera also claims that granular bandwidth slicing can reduce bandwidth inefficiencies by 45%.
Infinera demonstrated the concept in a trial with Telefonica two years ago, and is now ready to start commercializing it, with actual line cards and systems using the new PICs scheduled for delivery later this year.
The PIC launch heralds Infinera’s push into the metro side of the optical business, said Bennett.
“The long-haul market has been a good market for us – it’s growing somewhere around 10% to 12% a year, and our revenues are growing faster than that, and we’ve captured a good amount of market share in longhaul,” he said. “But we want to grow faster and address the bigger market, which is metro. And the key to doing that is granular, sliceable photonics.”
Bennett also claims that Infinera’s longhaul pedigree gives it an advantage. “The competition is taking 100G products and upgrading them to 200G or 400G. One tradeoff of doing that is shorter reach. You can only do shorthaul, whereas our PICs can do both shorthaul and longhaul.”