Posts tagged: waveshaper

Video: Finisar WaveShaper 16000 technology demonstration at OFC 2014

OFC 2014 Wrap-Up

The industry’s highly anticipated OFC event was held earlier this month in lovely San Francisco. Here’s a chance to look back on a busy week in the City by the Bay.

With 800 presentations, 550 exhibitors (including Finisar of course), and 12,700 attendees, OFC is the largest optical communications conference in the US. Although, to be fair, Photonics West also at the Moscone Centre a few weeks prior, is about 50% bigger. Day-time temperatures during the week were in the 60s and along with the balmy nights and absence of rain, it was a beautiful week to spend in technical and customer meetings. Not even a news breaking 5-alarm fire just a few blocks away could distract from the focused technical frenzy that is OFC.

Whilst in 2013, the interest around Silicon Photonics made it difficult to distinguish fact from hope, the Si vs. InP debate this year was more reasoned, in my humble opinion, and the major players are starting to recognise that there will ultimately be a place for both technologies. With Finisar’s recent acquisition of u2t, we clearly see a great future ahead for InP-based components but, as we’ve often said, silicon remains an interesting option in certain niche applications.

I personally managed to get quite a long way out of my comfort zone by attending the workshop on Quantum Key Distribution. The recent furore over the activities of the NSA and other government agencies makes this a very interesting topic but the whole QKD area is clearly hampered by (a) the fundamental difficulty of sending individual photons far enough and fast enough to allow for high-speed key distribution (no amplifiers allowed as this corrupts the photon state and scrambles the transmission) and (b) the slow rate of progress in quantum computers, which is where QKD will really find its niche should such beasts ever escape from the realms of possibility into the realms of probability.

From a Finisar perspective, we were well represented on multiple panel and Market Watch segments as well has presenting a number of papers during the technical sessions. A highlight was an invited paper on the development and applications of the WaveShaper by Michael Roelens, which was particularly well-attended with over 300 people in the audience.

The ‘informal’ part of OFC was also its usual hectic self – our annual Australia vs. US pool match on Sunday ended (I think) in an honourable draw. It was a personal worst on Wednesday evening with quadruple bookings for receptions; my apologies to the Southampton University ORC Alumni and Photonics in Ottawa for not making it to their respective events.

Next year we’re off again to downtown Los Angeles for OFC 2015, but remember, it’s only another three years until we’re back in San Diego! Hope to see you in LA next March.

Feel free to comment on your favorite part of the annual OFC week!

OFC 2014: Meet the New Finisar WaveShaper 16000

It’s now over 5 years since we shipped our first WaveShaper (in October 2008, to Professor Arthur Lowery at Monash University, since you’re asking). During these 5 years we’ve been incredibly fortunate to be part of the ecosystem investigating next-generation telecoms networking techniques and have often been blown away by the things people have done with a WaveShaper.

The WaveShaper’s original capability to control both the amplitude and phase of a signal, along with the ability to route different parts of the signal to different output ports (in the case of the WaveShaper 4000) has been extended to the manipulation of polarization states (WaveShaper 2000). The WaveShaper Fourier Processor capability, which has been available now for about 12 months, has also proven extremely popular since it provides the ability to generate interferometric structures such as delay line filters etc. within a WaveShaper 4000 by controlling not only the phase and amplitude, but also adding the ability to share the signal at any wavelength between the 4 output ports of the WaveShaper 4000. The combination of these capabilities have seen the WaveShaper referenced over 250 times in published papers (according to the IEEE Xplore database) and we’re honored to have played a part in supporting peoples’ research successes.

We have recently had a number of requests from customers for a WaveShaper with an even higher port-count for use in system experiments, in particular for the development of Software-Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) test-beds. In response, we’re releasing the new WaveShaper 16000 at OFC next month. As the name would suggest, this is a 1 x 16 WaveShaper which supports all the signal-manipulation capabilities of the existing WaveShaper family, including the Fourier-Processor capability which allows the emulation of high-port count interferometric devices not accessible using conventional optical design technique. Imagine what you could do with, for example, a fully-bandwidth-programmable 1 x 16 AWG demux? Or a 1×16 WSS emulator with arbitrary channel bandwidth and programmable broadcast-and-continue capability?

To see the new WaveShaper 16000 in action, visit the WaveShaper team at the Finisar booth #3645 at OFC 2014 next month in San Francisco.

Wavelength Selective Switches and Mixed Channel Spacing

In my last posting about Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technology I mentioned that one of the technical differentiators of the LCoS technology was the ability of a single WSS to support both 50- and 100-GHz channel spacing at the same time.

The flexibility of Finisar’s core LCoS technology means that all Finisar WSSes have the ability to carry a mixture of optical channels with arbitrary bandwidths. Unlike other standard MEMs or Liquid Crystal switches the LCoS switching element contains, literally, millions of individual switching elements in a continuous grid which are linked together (under software control) to form the required channels for switching and attenuation.

For example, our high-resolution DWP50 platform uses around 6,000 pixels to switch each 50GHz channel, providing extremely granular control of the channel properties. To switch a 100 GHz channel, all we need to do is to group together two adjacent sets of 6,000 pixels and control them as a single entity, which is very simple to do. This ‘channel bonding’ capability can be achieved ‘on the fly’ and so provides operators with the advantage that they do not have to pre-define channel bandwidth allocations but can vary them as required by the data rate and modulation format that each individual channel is carrying.

Since the software defines where a channel starts and finishes, there is no reason that the frequency widths of channels shouldn’t vary arbitrarily across the C-band. In practice, anything but a simple grid can become quite confusing and difficult to manage from a network operating system perspective and so a mix of 50- and 100-GHz channels is all that is currently required.

However, as the demand for increased capacity on any given fiber continues unabated, it is possible to envisage a future network in which the combination of a completely flexible WSS (such as Finisar’s DWP range) together with arbitrarily tunable lasers, means that channels of arbitrary bandwidth and centre frequency can be placed anywhere within the C- (or L-) band to optimize the data-carrying capacity of the fibre. Indeed, it is already possible to start investigating how such a network might operate by using our WaveShaper 4000E Programmable Optical Processor to create a WSS with arbitrary channel centre frequencies and bandwidth, as shown in the image below.

Mixed Channel_Finisar Illustration_2009

More on this in a future blog post. Feel free to comment directly on this blog or contact me at

Finisar Technology Highlights at OFC

This marks the 17th year of the OFC/NFOEC exhibition and conference. Finisar is proud to say that we have participated in this show since its inauguration. Each year we attempt to raise the bar a little higher to provide technology demonstrations that exemplify Finisar as an innovator and market leader in the optical communications industry. This year we have several technology demonstrations in our booth including:

– The first public demonstration of a working 120Gb/s link over a CXP-based 12x10G active optical cable as well as the display of a new 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s CFP pluggable transceiver form factor, announced just this week by the CFP MSA

– A 16x Fibre Channel short wave SFP+ transceiver operating over 150 meters of OM3 fiber designed for both telecom and datacom applications. This module provides superior power dissipation and performance and includes components that leverage Finisar’s vertical integration synergies.

– A 40Gb/s DWDM RZ-DQPSK 300pin MSA optical transponder designed for metro core, regional, and long-haul networks. This transponder can be designed into the same line-cards as Finisar’s NRZ-DPSK 300pin transponder as a compatible ‘drop in’ option.

– A family of reconfigurable optical processors called WaveShaper that enable highly flexible wavelength switching and filtering critical for DWDM system and component testing, optical pulse shaping and control, and general optics research and development.

These demos span the breadth of our business – from high-speed links for datacenter and high performance clustering applications, to storage networking applications, to long-haul tunable applications. In short, we hope we have something for everybody. If you happen to be at the show, come by our booth #1734 anytime for a live viewing.

Finisar booth at OFC/NFOEC

Finisar OFC activity

Of course, you can drop me a line here if you’d like to share any cool or interesting technologies you’ve seen at OFC this week.