Lucent to develop super-fast optical network for U.S. Air Force

April 22, 2004 Murray Hill, NJ -- The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded two contracts to Lucent Technologies, including a $12.5-million contract for the Integrated Router Interconnected Spectrally (IRIS) program, which focuses on next-generation, super-fast, ultra-high capacity optical communications.

April 22, 2004 Murray Hill, NJ -- The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded two contracts to Lucent Technologies, including a $12.5-million contract for the Integrated Router Interconnected Spectrally (IRIS) program, which focuses on next-generation, super-fast, ultra-high capacity optical communications.

Lucent's four-year IRIS award, administered by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY, will be used to develop the architecture, components and prototype systems for all-optical packet routing in high-speed telecommunications systems. This includes the development of an optical packet router that can send and receive up to 100 Tbits of data--approximately the information content of the Library of Congress--every second.

The research team will also develop dense, highly integrated photonic circuits that allow traffic in the network to be switched at speeds below a nanosecond (one nanosecond is a billionth of a second). As optical communication systems grow exponentially more complex, routing and scheduling of packets in an efficient manner becomes increasingly difficult. These circuits will be key components in next-generation equipment required to manage, or route, the huge amounts of traffic anticipated in future optical networks. Ultimately, this work should help solve the inherently difficult scheduling problem that affects any large router.

The Bell Labs team's goal is to integrate more than 100 active components in an optical communications system onto a single chip. The chips will be optimized for various traffic patterns that occur in networks and will be incorporated into a prototype system that demonstrates high-speed optical routing. In the process, the team will significantly reduce the power consumption as well as the overall footprint of the optical system.

"Because of this contract, we will develop the world's best optical systems for the United States Air Force," reports Rod Alferness, senior vice president of optical networking research at Bell Labs. "Our goal is to develop and demonstrate new optical switching technologies and architectures that will dramatically increase the capacity of packet switching systems, which is critical to future defense, government, and industry communications needs," he adds.

Other members of the Bell Labs-led IRIS team include the University of California at Santa Cruz, Lehigh University, and Agility Communications.

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