The insatiable demand for bandwidth continues to drive the need for network scale. By 2020, over 20 billion devices are expected to be connected as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes pervasive. Mobile video usage is forecasted to multiply 30 times over from today, while 70 percent of businesses are expected to be cloud-enabled by 2020. Service providers need a wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) transmission technology that will deliver scalable, cost-effective capacity without compromising on optical reach. The WDM industry is now aligned on the fact that multi-carrier super-channels are the best way to scale capacity quickly without scaling operations.
Super-channels are a WDM innovation in which several optical carriers are combined to create a composite line-side signal of the desired capacity that can be provisioned in one operational cycle. Infinera pioneered the use of super-channels in Optical Transport Network (OTN) platforms in 2005 with the introduction of the world’s first large-scale photonic integrated circuit (PIC). Today, Infinera’s Infinite Capacity Engine (ICE) family enables new step functions in optical WDM transport performance, powered by the advanced electronics of Infinera’s FlexCoherent® Processors and the cutting-edge photonics of Infinera’s PICs.
Starting with the ICE4 optical engine, super-channels now incorporate sliceability at the wavelength level. Sliceable photonics allow the tuning and routing of any 100 gigabits per second (100G) wavelength within a super-channel or N x 100G super-channels in multiple separate directions, each with its own coherent modulation profile. Sliceable super-channels provide massive scalability with fine granularity, delivering tremendous flexibility.
Implementing Super-channels without Large-scale PICs
Companies that do not have access to large-scale photonic integration intellectual property must use off-the-shelf optical components that consume more space and power than PICs, limiting the capacity of a single line card to one channel. In order to get more throughput, they must use higher-order modulation to increase capacity on a single line card.
Implementing Super-channels with Large-scale PICs
By implementing super-channels using large-scale (i.e. multi-wavelength) PIC technology, Infinera can deliver a range of benefits to our customers. The most obvious is that a single line card that is brought into service in a single operational cycle can now deliver multiple times the capacity of a single-wavelength card, while still delivering exceptional optical reach performance.
With the reduction in complexity that comes along with integrating several hundred optical functions onto each PIC, systems become dramatically more reliable, with Infinera customers accumulating several billion failure-free hours of PIC operation over the past 10 years.
Finally, PIC economics allow Infinera to deliver super-channel capacity in a cashflow-efficient way using the unique Instant Bandwidth technology, by which a network operator can light up the entire super-channel with one set of wavelength planning, but can activate 100G slices using a software licensing mechanism.