ECOC 2012: Monday Report from Simon Poole

The process by which the trade show goes from an empty hangar to the clean, professional environment that greets the attendee when it opens, never ceases to amaze me. The Finisar booth (#500) is right in front of the show entrance and has undergone its usual transformation from an ugly duckling on the Sunday before the show to the beautiful swan that it is when the show opens. As with all swans, the graceful exterior hides the frantic activities below the water and it is a credit to all the engineers who have put in huge efforts to get the demos all working come opening time.

At the Finisar booth we’ve a range of demonstrations and product releases (read our ECOC 2012 show announcements). On the WaveShaper front, we’re demonstrating a range of new capabilities as discussed in previous posts – polarization processing, power splitting, etc. as well as demonstrating the WaveSketch app for quick generation of simple filters. There is also a demonstration of the capabilities of Finisars Board Mounted Optical Engine (or BOA) which is designed for high-speed optical interconnects both between chips and between circuit boards.

The biggest demonstration, however, is a demo of a 2x1xN two-slot ROADM line card with Flexgrid(TM) capabilities. This includes a high port-count WSS together with a high speed multi-port Flexgrid Optical Channel Monitor. This isn’t immediately visible from the booth entry, but have a chat with our friendly booth staff to schedule a chance to see this excellent piece of engineering.

I managed to fit in a few talks amongst the days customer meetings and general meet and greets. Highlight of those that I saw was the review by S J Ben Yoo from UCD on his groups work on arbitrary waveform generation – a real technological tour de force with over 1200 active optical devices integrated onto a single 3″ InP wafer.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more reports from the technical sessions!

Finisar WSS WHITE PAPER: Balancing Performance, Flexibility, and Scalability in Optical Networks

The availability of Wavelength Selective Switches (WSS) supporting 100 Gb/s and 400 Gb/s data rates enables network operators to significantly increase bandwidth capacity in DWDM optical networks with substantial CAPEX and OPEX savings. Moving to such higher data rates, however, requires a shift from the continuing trend of implementing narrower optical channel spacing given that data rates beyond 100 Gb/s cannot fit within a 50 GHz channel….

Download Finisar’s latest WSS white paper from our website (see blue downloads box): Balancing Performance, Flexibility, and Scalability in Optical Networks

Gearing Up for OFC 2012 and Reflection on ROADM Evolution

This week’s blog post comes from Ken Falta, Senior Director of Marketing, Finisar

With OFC/NFOEC approaching next week, anticipation of the industry’s upcoming product and technology announcements invariably leads to speculation and, of course, reflection. One of the most talked-about trends at last year’s OFC was the evolution of ROADM functionality and its role in increasingly flexible and scalable networks capable of transporting network traffic at a lower cost per bit per kilometer. Of course these forecasts included disparate views not only among WSS vendors but among systems OEMs and even network operators in which the virtues of colorless, directionless, contentionless (CDC) connectivity coupled with gridless or elastic optical networks were contrasted with operational and logistical challenges of implementation into legacy networks.

As with most enabling technologies, the acceptance of these capabilities has gained momentum as challenges are seen as opportunities and addressed through entrepreneurial enterprise. Throughout 2011, we’ve seen mounting evidence of movement toward the broad adoption of elastic networks (in which the bit rate, modulation format and channel spacing are tuned according to reach and capacity requirements) from the standards committees, systems OEMs, carriers and even component vendors, where each of which were, until recently, vocal skeptics.

At the standards level, ITU has accepted the updated G.694.1 standard to include a flexible DWDM grid definition, transcending the 50/100/200 grid limitations and settling, at least for now, at 12.5 GHz channel spacing.

At the carrier level, Verizon continues to be the leading advocate for flexible spectrum functionality. Verizon’s Glenn Wellbrock was quoted in the December 2011 Gazettebyte stating, “In my opinion, the key technology enabler in 2012 will be the flexible grid optical switching that can support data rates beyond 100 Gigabit and provides the framework to support colorless, directionless and contentionless optical nodes.”

In addition to Verizon, NTT, BT and Telefonica, among other carriers, have released publications quantifying the spectral efficiencies gained through flexible grid functionality.

In one recently published paper by researcher Thierry Zami of Alcatel-Lucent at ECOC 2011, it was shown that a European Backbone Network consisting of fixed QPSK 100Gb/s connections and 50GHz channel spacing (using a network planning algorithm to establish connections up to 1% blocking), if configured with flexible channel spacing, would increase in capacity by 32.7% while only requiring a 3.6% increase in regenerators. And, if the same network employed both flexible channel spacing and flexible QPSK (or 8 QAM or 16 QAM), the same capacity would increase by 35.3% while only requiring a 2.2% increase in regenerators.

With 2011 behind us, it has become increasingly clear that WDM networks are likely to continue on this evolutionary path to scalability and flexibility through CDC connectivity and flexible grid functionality. It’s also clear that we can expect that creative initiatives designed to further the capability of optical networks will be revealed and debated at OFC 2012 followed by the continual advancement of WDM networks.

Ken Falta

Finisar’s Flexgrid™ on display in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum

Finisar’s DWP range of Wavelength Selective Switches, with their unique Flexgrid™ dynamic channel bandwidth technology, form the centrepiece of a new exhibition at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. The exhibition, which highlights Australia’s leading engineering success stories, was opened by Brendyn Williams, Engineers Australia Sydney Division President and Matthew Connell, Principal Curator, Physical Sciences & IT, Powerhouse Museum on the February 1, 2012. The opening was attended by engineers from the Finisar Australia team that developed the Flexgrid technology, together with 150 guests. Located in the entrance area of the museum, the exhibition will run until the end of 2012. More information can be found here.
Photos: Marinco Kojdanovski
Reproduced courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

Finisar’s Flexgrid™ wins National Engineering Award

Finisar Australia’s Flexgrid™ technology has won another award – a National Engineering Excellence Award from the Institute of Engineers Australia. Fresh from winning the coveted Bradfield Award for best engineering project from the Sydney division of the IEAust, Flexgrid™ was one of only 6 national awards presented this year. The award was received by Steve Winnall, Director of Product Engineering, at a black-tie awards dinner in front of 600 guests at Parliament House in Canberra last month.

To quote the judges: “With the exponential growth of data capacity on the internet, the demand for more flexible and efficient optical network services from telecoms carriers is ever increasing. Finisar has met this demand with its new Flexgrid technology. Flexgrid is a unique software enhancement which allows telecommunications carriers to deploy bandwidth, flexibly and dynamically in their networks. Well ahead of their global competitors, Finisar have overcome several engineering challenges and have now successfully launched Flexgrid to the market.”

A video of Steve’s acceptance speech can be found at

Finisar was also represented at the ceremony by Andrew Bartos, Steve Frisken and Simon Poole, who, along with Steve Winnall and the MC for the evening, Sally Dominguez from the New Inventors TV Show, are shown in the photo below.

Congratulations to all involved in the Flexgrid™ program – and thank you for your hard work and dedication which have made the project so successful.