Infinera unveils low-latency strategy

April 21, 2010
APRIL 21, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- Infinera this morning became the latest company to offer a strategy to lower latency in communications networks. The systems house introduced what it calls a “tool kit” of features -- some new, some not -- for its platforms to address the growing interest in low-latency networking.

APRIL 21, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- Infinera (Nasdaq: INFN) this morning became the latest company to offer a strategy to lower latency in communications networks. The systems house introduced what it calls a “tool kit” of features -- some new, some not -- for its platforms to address the growing interest in low-latency networking.

According to Chris Liou, Infinera’s vice-president, network strategy, the tool kit contains four elements:

  1. The company’s photonic integrated circuit (PIC) calling card inherently lowers latency by integrating multiple functions at the wafer level that other systems must use slower coupling options to connect. Wafer-level integration also contributes to lower latency because it increases reliability, Liou says.
  2. A new technology, “native waves,” enables the provision of low-latency, direct paths that bypass aggregation elements. So a low-latency 1-Gbps transmission might travel on its own path while other 1-Gbps streams are multiplexed into a 10-Gbps wavelength, as multiplexing and demultiplexing would increase latency.
  3. The company also took the wraps off of a new optical dispersion compensation technology that obviates the need for dispersion compensating fiber that would add distance to the transmission path. Infinera has partnered with another company for this compensation feature, but Liou declined to identify that partner.
  4. Finally, what Liou described as “ultra-low-latency regen” in some applications would obviate the need for forward error correction (FEC) coding, the use of which adds microseconds of latency to transmissions, Liou says. Liou adds that it stands to reason that the time to perform such regeneration would be less than the time FEC requires.


One element that might seem missing from the kit is high transmission speed. However, Liou pointed out that regardless of the data rate, light takes the same amount of time to travel from one end of the connection to the other. Any latency savings would come from speeding up the serial interface. The speed gain from 1 to 10 Gbps is significant – just under a microsecond, according to Liou. However, because of the advanced FEC and other elements one can expect at 100 Gbps, the advantage of moving from 10 to 100 Gbps would only be a few hundreds of a microsecond, he asserts.

Infinera has begun to offer the new low-latency capabilities to its customers. COLT Technology Services has implemented the new features in its network, the company says. Liou reveals that Infinera also has a U.S. customer that has deployed the technology as well.

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