Wavecrest Corp. enters optical testing domain

January 2, 2002--EXCLUSIVE--Wavecrest Corp. (Eden Prairie, MN), a mainstay in the electrical test and measurement industry since 1985, is set to enter the optical test and measurement market with a new product slated for demonstration at OFC in March.

Jan 3rd, 2002

By MEGHAN FULLER, News Editor

Wavecrest Corp. (Eden Prairie, MN), a mainstay in the electrical test and measurement industry since 1985, is set to enter the optical test and measurement market with a new product slated for demonstration at OFC in March.

Wavecrest's strength is in timing and jitter measurement and analysis equipment, which is equally applicable to both the electrical and optical domains, contends John Perlick, director of optical product marketing. For the past five years, engineers in both fields have been using Wavecrest equipment to analyze serial data-communications systems.

In 1997, the company took part in the Fibre Channel Test Conference and was instrumental in establishing a specification for signal analysis in the time domain. "We are able to extrapolate timing noise into bit error rate," explains Michael Debie, director of product development. "We can do a timing analysis in just a few seconds, and we can predict the reliability of a signal that a normal SONET analyzer or communication analyzer would take days--maybe weeks--to verify."

However, the optical engineers who do use Wavecrest's equipment in their labs must expend what Debie calls "an awful lot of pain-in-the-neck effort." They have to use third-party optical-to-electrical converters and then make assumptions about gain. They also have to calibrate the equipment.

To eliviate this problem, the folks at Wavecrest have decided to offer an optical-to-electrical converter, dubbed the OE2, on their SIA-3000 signal integrity analyzer platforms. Now, says Debie, they can take optical communication signals, analyze all the timing parameters, and characterize when the signal will start degrading as a function of eye closure and bit error rate.

"We believe that all communication is going to continue to transmit over optics," says Debie. "We found that a lot of our customers were looking at PONs and a lot of different high-speed optical communication techniques within their own buildings, and their customers are expanding their optical networks."

While it's easy to see why the folks at Wavecrest have decided to offer optical products, one has to wonder about the timing of such an offering. Perlick, for one, isn't worried. The SONET sector may be suffering, but the Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE), and Fibre Channel industries are poised for robust growth, he contends.

Gigabit Ethernet delivers a higher throughput at a much lower cost, says Debie. "One of the advantages of moving toward Gigabit Ethernet is that you're going into a domain that needs very little translation when it's going from computer to computer over a given media. The amount of translation loss--or the header and framer bits SONET requires within its communication standard--is just not needed."

Debie is a voting member of the 10-Gigabit Ethernet group responsible for devising standards for high-speed data-communication in the metro space. Wavecrest engineers are also offering their expertise in random and deterministic jitter to the OIF, the IEEE, and ANSI's Fibre Channel group.

Wavecrest will demonstrate the OE2 product at OFC in March. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.wavecrest.com.

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