MRV Communications’ 100-Gbps strategy beginning to emerge

MRV Communications (OTC Pink Sheets: MRVC) has announced its intentions to enter the 100-Gbps optical equipment market. Unlike most other companies with similar plans, MRV wants to target metro and regional applications first, rather than the long-haul and core networks.

MRV Communications (OTC Pink Sheets: MRVC) has announced its intentions to enter the 100-Gbps optical equipment market. Unlike most other companies with similar plans, MRV wants to target metro and regional applications first, rather than the long-haul and core networks. To prove its sincerity – as well as how close it is to having a 100-Gbps product – it announced a 100-Gbps partnership with AMS-IX, an Internet exchange in Amsterdam that has made no secret of its desire for 100-Gbps network capabilities.

In a conversation with Lightwave, new Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for MRV’s Optical Communications Systems (OCS) Division David Stehlin said the company would be “intentionally vague” about its plans in public for the time being. Stehlin, formerly president of Overture Networks, revealed that MRV envisions a family of 100-Gbps products and that the first one will leverage dual-polarization quadrature phase-shift keying (DP-QPSK) with coherent detection. However, he declined to say whether this initial offering would come in the form of an upgrade to its existing LambdaDriver DWDM platform or an entirely new product – or when it would be unveiled. Adding 100-Gbps to the LambdaDriver, which Stehlin mentioned is engineered to support such capabilities, would seem the most likely scenario.

Stehlin did say that MRV plans to concentrate on regional, metro, and inter-data center applications, with Internet exchanges in the mix. As such, the products will emphasize low cost, low power, and low latency. Along these lines, Stehlin intimated that not all of the products in the MRV 100-Gbps family would use the DP-QPSK/coherent detection approach, which currently carriers a hefty cost and latency penalty versus more conventional modulation formats due to its complexity and reliance on digital signal processing.

The partnership announcement with AMS-IX should be taken as a hint of how far along MRV is towards having a 100-Gbps product, Stehlin also said. AMS-IX is already a LambdaDriver user and has actively explored 100-Gbps technology through its membership in the 10x10 MSA for optical transceiver modules (see “The 10x10 MSA conundrum”) and its recent test of 100-Gigabit Ethernet technology (see “AMS-IX and Limelight Networks field-test Brocade 100 Gigabit Ethernet technology”).

“AMS-IX needed 100 Gbps years ago—both for our own network as well as for our connected networks—so my support of 100Gbps over 40 Gbps was mostly need-driven. For our customers on location in our data centers or close by we plan to introduce the new highest port speeds this month. Our own core will follow as soon as MRV OCS’ systems are available,” said Henk Steenman, CTO for AMS-IX, was quoted as saying in an MRV press release.

Stehlin said his company has similar partnerships lined up with other potential customers.

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