Leveraging Current Tech For The Future

The strain upon our Internet networks is increasing exponentially. Besides our Internet infrastructure being decades old, now they also have to contend with heavier data traffic from voice, video and users jumping on the mobile bandwagon; Internet traffic flows have to be more flexible than ever to fulfil customer expectation of anytime, anywhere Internet access, on any device, under any circumstance.



And according to networking and communications technology providers Alcatel-Lucent, these dynamics are forcing network operators to accelerate capacity upgrades in the core of their networks.  They underline this with research which estimated that from 2011 till 2016, daily data traffic could increase to as much as 800,000 terabytes (TB).


According to Aaron D’Alwis, regional PLM, WDM and DXC, Optics CC for the French company in Asia Pacific, access capacity will strain the core network. “It has to support multiple functions – route Internet traffic, do mobile backhaul, support the cloud and so on.” He rightly reiterated that high-capacity switching is needed.


But the case is usually that core routers would increase their capacity and speed, at the expense of capabilities. The same applies vice versa – the more capabilities core networks have, the lesser the speed it would run at.


Alcatel-Lucent’s FP3 network processor unit (NPU) that was developed in-house and released to the edge network market in mid-2011, doesn’t compromise performance and D’Alwis said, “ It is field tested and we are pushing this to core routers as well. Our core routers would be using a proven chipset and software that is used in commercial edge routers.”


The 7950 XRS-20b in different angles and configurations: This is a 16Tbps core router that would
 be available Q3, 2012, and is currently in sever al trials. 
The 7950 XRS-40 and 7950 XRS-16c are slated to arrive by Q2, 2013.


The FP3 is the first and only 400G NPU in the industry today, and is central to Alcatel-Lucent’s new line of core IP routers, the 7950 XRS. Both combined can deliver up to five times improvement in capacity and performance as well as energy savings as much as 66-percent compared to current core routers today. These new core IP routers are also said to inherit Service Router Operating System (SR OS) which already supports residential, business and mobile traffic in more than 450 service provider networks worldwide.


The flagship of the family, the 7950 XRS-40, supports 32 terabits per second (Tbps) capacity and 160 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports in a single system, which is five times the density of today’s core routers. With everything that the Internet is expected to support and deliver these days and the near future, Alcatel Lucent believes that 100 gigabit per second (100G) links are increasingly serving as the foundation for IP transport. It stands to reason that the need for 400G and 1000G (Terabit) links are already in the horizon.


Future proof

The 7950 XRS backplane and optical interconnect are designed to handle slot capacities of 2Tbps, multi-chassis clustering that enables the system to scale up to 240 Tbps in the future as well as support 400G and 1 Terabit interfaces as they become available.


D ‘ Alwis also explained further about their new photonic transport solution which was announced last March.  The Photonic Service Engine (PSE) builds upon their legacy 100G product, and is now able to support 400G data transmission speeds on optical networks. He pointed out that modulating signals faster can only go so far because a physical channel still limits distances (of data packets).  Currently, 100G solutions are only able to go beyond 2000km. This is where Alcatel-Lucent’s in-house expertise in digital signal processing (DSP) gives them an advantage.


D’ Alwis pointed out that with a combination of “increasing algorithms of receiver to increase reach, a new soft-decision  forward error correction (SD-FEC) mechanism which enables data to accept ‘noisier’ environments, new modulation schemes, and pulse reshaping with a new transmitter” data traffic can breach longer distances with less electrical regeneration.  


“Basically, we tried to increase the volume of traffic which you can inject into a single fibre.”


Besides maximising the network capacity, the versatile 400G PSE chip increases platform capacity and reduces chip power consumption. Now, 100G solutions like the family of line cards used in Alcatel-Lucent’s 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS) products are able to go beyond 3000km when powered by the 400G PSE.  Besides doubling capacity, increasing speed up to four times and reducing total cost of ownership, the PSE lays the foundation for smooth migration to 400G networks.

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