Passave hops the fence to GPON

August 22, 2005 Santa Clara, CA -- In a signal that the once tidy world of PON chips is about to get messy, Passave Inc. has become the first silicon vendor to offer SoCs for both IEEE and FSAN PON equipment. With gigabit speeds of interest to carriers worldwide, chip vendors will soon offer multiple flavors of PON chips, says Editorial Director Stephen Hardy.

Aug 22nd, 2005

August 22, 2005 Santa Clara, CA -- In a signal that the once tidy world of PON chips is about to get messy, Passave Inc. has become the first silicon vendor to offer SoCs for both IEEE and FSAN PON equipment. With gigabit speeds of interest to carriers worldwide, chip vendors will soon offer multiple flavors of PON chips.

Passave, which enjoys the market share lead for IEEE Ethernet PON (EPON or GE-PON) silicon, has unveiled the PAS5211 optical line terminal (OLT) and the PAS6211 optical network terminal (ONT) SoCs for FSAN Gigabit PON (GPON) applications. The ONT device will incorporate DSP, CDR, SerDes, packet processing, G.984 MAC functions, and a CPU. Both the ONT and OLT devices will support forward error correction.

According to Dror Sa'lee, Passave's vice president of marketing, the two new devices represent a natural extension of the company's existing EPON line. In fact, it uses the same GigaPASS architecture as the EPON chips.

Sa'lee sees the new chips as the company's entrée into systems targeted at the North American market. EPON is now being widely deployed in Asia, particularly in Japan and Korea. "The GPON that is going to be deployed [in North America] is going to be called GPON, but it's going to be very similar to the Gigabit EPON deployed in Japan today and that's starting deployment in Korea and China right now," he says. Because Passave's EPON chips are ubiquitous in Asian deployments, Sa'lee thinks that his company's experience in that technology will aid it in GPON.

Sa'lee predicts the devices will be available for sampling by the end of this year. That would make them available at roughly the same time as the BL2000 ONT SoC BroadLight Inc. announced in May. Freescale Semiconductor also has announced a device, which it will co-develop with Alcatel. Suhail Agwani, PON product marketing manager at Freescale, indicates that while its GPON offering will be made available to the open market, Alcatel will have first access. Agwani declined to reveal the timeline for the SoC's development.

The fact that Passave has extended its product line into FSAN-based GPON is interesting because the chip market had been segregated between FSAN and IEEE suppliers. BroadLight and Freescale offered FSAN silicon for BPON applications, while Passave battled with Teknovus and Centillium Communications for EPON design wins.

However, Passave's move is expected to be one of many similar thrusts across this border. For example, Conexant recently announced its entry into the FSAN space with its Xenon BPON device. While the company has a GPON device on the drawing board, Rajiv Bighe, director of product planning at Conexant, says the company's next offering will be an EPON device that should begin sampling by the end of the year. This will be followed by a hybrid GPON/EPON device that Bighe expects to be ready for sampling by the middle of next year.

AMCC, meanwhile, has a GPON SoC of its own under development. Leveraging the success of its S2060 Gigabit Ethernet PHY, which has found its way into Asian-produced GE-PON systems, the company expects to create an SoC that will work particularly well for business applications.

-- S. Hardy

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