Infinera (Nasdaq: INFN) has demonstrated working photonic integrated circuits (PICs) delivering 400 Gigabits/second (Gb/s) of optical capacity in a single pair of chips using complex modulation formats. The 400G PIC will enable Infinera’s next generation optics to deliver up to 80% power savings over competitor 40 Gb/s wavelength optics based on conventional discrete optical components. Infinera’s 400G PIC will operate over Infinera’s ILS2 line system with 25 Gigahertz (GHz) channel spacing, delivering double the spectral density of competitor systems which operate over 50 GHz spacing.
Infinera’s 400 Gb/s transmit PIC, working in Infinera’s labs today, integrates more than 300 optical functions and enables a reduction in optical component packages from around 70 to just one. The 400G PIC pair marks a new and important landmark in Infinera’s PIC roadmap. It represents a fourfold increase in “bits per chip” over today’s 100 Gb/s Infinera PICs, and a forty-fold increase over chips in today’s competitor systems. Last year at this time, Infinera introduced our industry roadmap for the progress of photonic integration, setting out our goals for a 400 Gb/s PIC in 2009 and a doubling of bandwidth capacity or bits per chip every three years.
The 400 Gb/s PIC will be at the heart of the next generation of Infinera systems. The new PIC integrates ten lasers to deliver ten optical channels, each one operating at 40 Gb/s. The data is encoded using polarization-multiplexed differential quadrature phase-shift keying (PM-DQPSK) modulation, which enables optical performance equivalent to 10 Gb/s systems on today’s fiber plant. The PM-DQPSK modulation format delivers benefits in terms of lower power consumption, greater spectral efficiency, improved optical reach compared to other complex modulation techniques, and greater resistance to impairments like dispersion. Infinera’s modulation approach will enable systems based on 400G PICs to be compatible with Infinera’s 25GHz-spaced ILS2 line system. Infinera’s next generation systems will be designed to enable network operators to scale total fiber capacity to 6.4Tb/s in the C-band, or twice what is possible using conventional 40G WDM systems. .
Addressing the Energy Challenge
With bandwidth demand continuing to grow at about 50% a year according to many estimates, service providers need systems that can deliver increased fiber capacity and spectral efficiency, while simultaneously increasing reliability and reducing space, and power consumption per bit. Traditional discrete-component-based optical systems are challenged to drive down space and power per bit because the complex modulation techniques required for higher fiber capacity require a large number of optical and electronic components. The new 400 Gb/s PIC eliminates a large number of optical components and complex electronic signal processing, achieving greater network reliability and the fiber capacity benefits of complex modulation while consuming significantly less space and power than traditional systems.
Power consumption and access to cost-effective energy in conjunction with the continued expansion of the Internet is becoming one of the most critical issues facing the communications industry today. With the price of energy rising and becoming more volatile, power use has become a more significant factor in service providers’ costs. In the next several years, the technology industry will be driven to increase its energy efficiency at several levels, including the data center and the network. Photonic integration will make a significant contribution to reducing energy consumption per bit for these applications.
Lab demonstrations show that Infinera’s 400 Gb/s PICs consume about half the power (on a per Gb/s basis) of today’s Infinera 100 Gb/s PICs which are deployed in networks worldwide. The 400 Gb/s PICs consume 80% less power per Gb/s compared to today’s 40 Gb/s optics based on discrete solutions. PICs’ power efficiencies are achieved because PICs can implement thermal control more efficiently with many devices integrated into a single package and there is less optical loss with devices much closer together on the chip.
Infinera Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Dave Welch commented, “Complex modulation is an important tool in the drive for ever-greater fiber capacity. But complex modulation with conventional technologies comes at the price of more complex optical structures. Because Infinera is able to integrate these structures monolithically, with over three hundred individual optical functions on a single chip, the benefits of photonic integration are becoming more powerful than ever before.”