AWG companies announce small form factor MSA

JULY 24, 2007 -- According to MSA representatives, the new small form factor module provides a footprint approximately one third smaller than the original AWG MSA, which was defined in December 2002.

JULY 24, 2007 -- Planar Lightwave Circuit (search for PLC) vendors NEL, Hitachi Cable, Gemfire, Fitel, NEC, and NeoPhotonics have announced the addition of a new option within the Multi-Source Agreement (MSA) for thermally stabilized array waveguide grating (search for AWG) modules for a small form factor package configuration.

This small form factor module provides a footprint approximately one third smaller than the original AWG MSA, first published in December of 2002, depending on the configuration, say MSA members. These standardized AWGs provide multiplexing and demultiplexing for DWDM optical equipment through a common interface, allowing equipment manufacturers a choice among several compatible suppliers, simultaneously reducing lead-times and cost, say the companies.

The new small form factor provides all of the benefits of standardization while saving precious board space. Version 2.0 of the MSA, containing descriptions of both the standard and small form factor AWG packages, has now been published. For more information, visit the AWG MSA website at

"As one of the founding members, we at NEL have been very pleased with the broad industry acceptance of the initial MSA for thermally stabilized AWGs, and we expect this Small Form Factor MSA to be equally successful," asserts Haruki Kozawaguchi, executive director of NEL Corp. (search for NEL Corp.). He notes that the MSA defines common mechanical features and electrical interfaces for the AWG module, including package dimensions, bolt holes, electrical pin positions and assignments, fiber positions, heater resistance, and firmware. By contrast, optical performance parameters such as insertion loss, crosstalk, and passband are not specified by MSA, says Kozawaguchi. Instead, they are determined individually by the member companies.

AWG technology has advanced greatly since the original AWG MSA was defined in 2002, recalls Seiich Okubo, CTO of Hitachi Cable (search for Hitachi Cable). "An AWG with the same number of channels and channel spacing can now be put in a package that is only two thirds of the size of the original," he reports. "This new Small Form Factor MSA package will allow equipment manufacturers to utilize this small size while retaining the benefits of a standard mechanical and electrical interface."

Nigel Cockroft, vice president of telecom products at Gemfire Corp. (search for Gemfire Corp.) maintains that the new small form factor AWG agreement is a great simplification over the original MSA, "by providing a single slim, compact form factor for two choices of input/ output fiber locations while allowing for either internal or external electronic control. Given the rapidly increasing deployment of AWGs and pressures to minimize system space," he says, "we expect this new design will be very popular and will allow system integrators to move forward with confidence."

It is important that MSA standards keep pace with technology developments, adds G. Ferris Lipscomb, vice president of marketing at NeoPhotonics (search for NeoPhotonics). He believes the new small form factor MSA enables equipment manufacturers to benefit from the development of small form factor technology, but contends that the original MSA will continue to be supported, "because many systems worldwide are based on that standard."

The thermally stabilized AWG MSA group is an open forum, welcoming applications from AWG manufactures that wish to join.

Visit Fitel (Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd)
Visit Gemfire Corp.
Visit Hitachi Cable
Visit NeoPhotonics Corp.
Visit NTT Electronics Corp.

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