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21 March 2012
 
Alcatel-Lucent has introduced the Photonic Service Engine (PSE), a third-generation coherent chipset that improves the performance of 100G optical transmission while laying the foundation for 400G.

The optical vendor says the new chipset combines new modulation formats with coherent technology and advanced digital signal processing (DSP) to pack more information into optical fibre. The internally developed transmit DSP can shape wavelengths—allowing better spectral efficiency, better tolerance to nonlinearity and improved noise reduction, the company says.

The announcement came just a few days after Ciena released its 400G-ready chipset, called Wavelogic 3 (see Ciena’s Wavelogic 3: More than just 400G).
 
The two vendors appear to be thinking along similar lines.  Both are emphasizing programmability, allowing carriers to optimize links for capacity, distance and latency. Both use two 200Gbps optical carriers encoded using 16-QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) to achieve 400G transmission.  In addition, both are technology announcements, with products expected later in 2012.
 
Alcatel-Lucent’s PSE chipset is designed for use in line cards that will go into the vendor’s 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS), to enable a total system capacity of 23Tbps. The 1830 PSS will need a software upgrade before it can support the new line cards, which is scheduled for the second half of this year.
 
"Alcatel-Lucent is one of only two vendors that have been shipping 100G coherent commercially for over a year and it is the market leader through 2011," noted Ron Kline, principal analyst, network infrastructure, Ovum. "In addition, the company is the only vendor with an integrated IP-optical solution for 100G and now a clear path to 400G. Alcatel-Lucent has raised the bar considerably for competitors just bringing 100G coherent to market."
 
Deutsche Telekom's Innovation Laboratories (T-Labs) has already put the Alcatel-Lucent’s new chipset through its paces. The PSE was the underlying technology in a field trial in which T-Labs and Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs successfully transmitted 512Gbps signal over 734km on an installed link between Hannover and Berlin.
 
By Pauline Rigby