Alcatel-Lucent makes 400-Gbps play

Not to be outdone by Ciena’s recent WaveLogic 3 processor announcement, Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) has unveiled, its latest processor, dubbed the Photonic Service Engine (PSE). It too will offer 400-Gbps capabilities via 16-QAM – but sooner than Ciena.

Not to be outdone by Ciena’s recent WaveLogic 3 processor announcement, Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) has unveiled, its latest processor, dubbed the Photonic Service Engine (PSE). It too will offer 400-Gbps capabilities via 16-QAM – but sooner than Ciena.

Alcatel-Lucent and Ciena appear to be on the same page in many ways as far as the next generation of coherent technology. The Photonic Service Engine features a digital signal processor in the transmitter that, among other benefits, enables carriers to select among such modulation formats as DP-QPSK, DP-BPSK, and 16-QAM modulation formats and waveform shaping to fit their requirements and improve spectral efficiency. It also has soft-decision FEC capabilities that Kevin Drury, senior director of product marketing for Alcatel-Lucent’s optical portfolio, says can support reaches beyond 3000 km. Flexible grid and superchannel capabilities also will come built in.

However, Drury says the Alcatel-Lucent approach brings additional benefits. For example, the company will now offer improved chassis density in that the ensuing slot cards will be narrower than the company’s first-generation offering. It also will support 400-Gbps capabilities – initially in the form of a 4x100-Gbps muxponder – in the second half of this year, which should beat Ciena to the market.

Asked if the new processor addressed any cycle or phase slip issues the first generation of Alcatel-Lucent gear was alleged to have, Drury called such adjustments unnecessary because the allegations were “completely fabricated.” The company has more than 55 customers and none of them have reported such issues, he asserted.

Drury sees the Photonic Service Engine as bringing the benefits of coherent to a variety of applications, including the metro via 16-QAM modulation. The company also plans to pair the device with its recently announced FP3 processor on its core routers at some point in the future.

Deutsche Telecom's Innovation Laboratories (T-Labs) has already put the Photonic Service Engine through its paces. T-Labs and Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs report that they have broken a transmission distance record by transmitting 512 Gbps over 734 km by looping a transmission back and forth between Hannover and Berlin. Drury says that more conventional customer trials are in the offing as well.

"Alcatel-Lucent's next generation coherent optical engine exemplifies the coupling of Bell Labs advanced research and the company's 100G commercial market experiences," said Sterling Perrin, Heavy Reading Senior Analyst. "The PSE may well be the first commercial 400G chip, but, just as significantly, it will improve the economics and performance of 100G systems - broadening and accelerating 100G market adoption."

More in High-Speed Networks