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02 November 2011
 
 
Calient Technologies, the optical switch specialist, has raised $19.4 million (€13.77 million) in its latest funding round. The sum will be used to develop and bring to market a more compact and power-efficient version of its existing 3D MEMS-based optical switch.
 
The company's latest optical switch design is aimed at the data centre. The switch will connect large server clusters in content providers' mega data centres. The design can also be used for cloud networking, to monitor and manage enterprises' fibres entering a data centre.
 
The company has been selling its FC 320, a 320-port 3D MEMS optical switch, since 2006. The platform is used by Verizon and AT&T at submarine cable landing sites and by government agencies.
 
Calient has now upgraded the electronics and software of the optical switch. This, says Gregory Koss, senior vice president for products and partners at Calient, reduces the power consumption to 20W, a 90% reduction compared to its existing design. The new switch is also less than half the size of the FC 320.      

The company has also started selling its switch module design to system vendors. Calient will work with system vendors to integrate the module within their own platforms.      
 
According to Koss, large data centre operators are interested in the optical switch to link server clusters. In a typical configuration, 48 servers are connected to a top-of-rack switch. This top-of-rack switch, via a 10 Gigabit Ethernet link, would then be one input to the 320-port optical switch.
 
"[Data centre] operators want a future-proofed network," said Koss. "They don't want to rebuild when links are upgraded to 40 and then 100 Gig." 
    
First switch module samples will be available before the year-end with general availability in the first quarter of 2012.
 
By Roy Rubenstein