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28 September 2011
 
Infinera has unveiled its next-generation core optical networking platform.  The DTN-X combines 5Tbps of dense wavelength division multiplexed (DWDM) transmission and G.709 Optical Transport Network (OTN) switching in a single bay, scaling to 10 Tbps per bay and 100Tbps in a multi-bay configuration in the future.
 
“This is the largest OTN/WDM switched transport product announced to date,” noted Eve Griliches, managing partner at ACG Research.
The DTN-X is noteworthy because it marks the commercial introduction of Infinera’s 100Gbps coherent technology. The system is designed around 500Gbps photonic integrated circuits (PICs), which support five  carriers, each running at 100Gbps. Infinera has demonstrated the technology on a number of occasions, most recently on the production network of pan-African telecoms provider Seacom.
 
Photonic integration remains the central theme of Infinera’s story.  The 500Gbps PICs integrate more than 600 optical functions, making it possible to achieve incredible density on the long-haul side of the system. The client-side interfaces and DWDM line cards occupy universal slots. The upshot is that a service provider can configure the chassis with up to 5Tbps of DWDM or service interfaces, or any combination of the two, without any trade-offs in system capacity.
 
OTN switching in the DTN-X is fully integrated and non-blocking.  Infinera developed its own application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) to add, drop and groom traffic with granularity down to ODU0 (1Gbps) – allowing operators to maximize network utilization by packing traffic onto fatter pipes.  The OTN switch chips were designed in-house, the company says, because off-the-shelf parts couldn’t scale to the degree that it wanted without introducing bottlenecks.
 
The outcome of all this integration is that the DTN-X uses one third less space and has 50% less power consumption than competitors’ systems in a typical configuration, the company claims.
 
Infinera is also promoting a concept it calls “super-channels” – chunks of operational capacity that can be provisioned and managed as a single unit via the GMPLS control plane. The DTN-X supports 500Gbps super-channels; 16 of these can fit into the C-band, enabling an aggregate capacity of 8Tbps on a single fibre.  Using large units of bandwidth brings down the opex associated with managing the network, which is vital as network traffic continues to increase.
 
The first release of the DTN-X will be generally available in the first half of 2012 – meeting Infinera’s initial schedule.  Later releases will include 1Tbps PIC-based line cards, multiprotocol lambda switching (MPLS) functionality on the switch cards, and “gridless” DWDM – although the company didn’t give any further details.
 
As part of the same announcement, Infinera introduced new features for the original DTN platform to support new services and further increase fibre capacity.  The upgrades include new 40 Gigabit Ethernet and 100 Gigabit Ethernet service interfaces and new (non-PIC-based) line cards supporting coherent 40Gbps carriers, enabling the DTN to scale to 6.4Tbps of transmission capacity per fibre. The DTN and DTN-X will be interoperable, allowing operators to mix 10, 40 and 100Gbps wavelengths on the same fibre.
  
By Pauline Rigby