Bandwidth-hungry beast rises at OFC/NFOEC 2008

March 3, 2008, San Diego, CA--Now that 40 Gbit/s systems are being commercially deployed and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is really coming home (see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/318567 & 318568 & 309265), Plenary and Market Watch presentations at last week's OFC/NFOEC were heavy with discussions surrounding 100 Gbit/s networks and even Terabit networks to feed the bandwidth-hungry beast, better known as the Internet.

Mar 3rd, 2008

March 3, 2008, San Diego, CA--Now that 40 Gbit/s systems are being commercially deployed and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is really coming home (see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/318567 & 318568 & 309265), Plenary and Market Watch presentations at last week's OFC/NFOEC were heavy with discussions surrounding 100 Gbit/s networks and even Terabit networks to feed the bandwidth-hungry beast, better known as the Internet.

The OFC/NFOEC Plenary sessions began on Tuesday, February 26th with a presentation indicative of this growing bandwidth need from Pieter Poll, CTO of Qwest Communications, on "Managing Proliferating Traffic Growth." Poll said that Qwest's Internet traffic is doubling every 16 months, from 9000 Terabytes per day in 2007 to more than 21,000 Terabytes per day predicted by 2012. Despite the long-anticipated move from 10 Gbit/s to 40 Gbit/s, Poll said that his company is now considering a direct move from 10 Gbit/s to 100 Gbit/s networks and is hoping to see a 100 Gbit Ethernet (100 GE) standard by 2009.

Even more eye-popping bandwidth numbers were announced in Wednesday's Panel III Market Watch entitled "Enterprise: Will the Next Speed Jump Bring a Boost for Optical." Network Architect Donn Lee from Facebook presented a strong case as to "Why 100 G Pipes Aren't Enough for Core-Rich Datacenters," when he explained that Facebook has 66 million active Internet users and is adding 1 million users per week. Calling Facebook the #1 photo site on the Internet and the 6th busiest, Lee said that his company needed 100 Gbit/s core switching last year to keep up with growing demand, and is filling the gap today by adding multiples of 10 GE networks connected by fiber in the core switching systems for Facebook. Lee's presentation was followed by Robert Schrage, head of network architecture and standards at Reuters, who also described the proliferation of Internet demand for its news and marketing services, noting that Reuters financial data is updated over 8000 times per second. His presentation, with the same title as the Panel III overall title, described the coming Terabit network and how new optical technologies will need to be developed to overcome the N x 100 GE bottleneck that is already being anticipated by pushing the limits of legacy installed optical fiber.

This year's OFC seemed to leapfrog last year's 100 GE discussions and move directly to Terabit networks. The second Plenary presentation "Toward Terabit Ethernet" from Bob Metcalfe, general partner of Polaris Ventures, described the "it" and the "they" within the phrase "build it and they will come." Metcalfe describes "it" as Terabit Ethernet, and "they" as the bandwidth-hungry voice, video, and data users with ever-increasing traffic demands. Metcalfe predicts that Terabit Ethernet will be chaotic, and may require thinking beyond WDM and 1550 nm wavelengths to new optical sources and materials. For a more comprehensive review of Metcalfe's views on Terabit Ethernet and OFC/NFOEC 2008, look for the full review in the March 15 issue of the Optoelectronics Report eNewsletter.

For more information, visit www.ofcnfoec.org.

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