Ciena touts WaveLogic 5 for 800-Gbps coherent transmission

Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) has unveiled WaveLogic 5, new iterations of its WaveLogic coherent engine ASIC. WaveLogic 5 will support 800-Gbps coherent transmission and come in two versions. The larger WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) will provide the full 800-Gbps horsepower, while the smaller WaveLogic 5 Nano (WL5n) will support up to 400-Gbps for applications that need a smaller footprint. Ciena plans to make the WaveLogic 5 chips available on the open market.

Feb 25th, 2019

Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) has unveiled WaveLogic 5, new iterations of its WaveLogic coherent engine ASIC. WaveLogic 5 will support 800-Gbps coherent transmission and come in two versions. The larger WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) will provide the full 800-Gbps horsepower, while the smaller WaveLogic 5 Nano (WL5n) will support up to 400-Gbps for applications that need a smaller footprint. Ciena plans to make the WaveLogic 5 chips available on the open market.

WaveLogic 5 is the first publicly announced upgrade of the WaveLogic coherent engine since the WaveLogic AI in 2016. That device supported coherent transmission up to 400 Gbps. While 600 Gbps was a subject of discussion and device announcement at OFC 2018 (see “Nokia touts ultimate in spectral efficiency via PSE-3 chipset and probabilistic constellation shaping” and “Infinera fifth Infinite Capacity Engine ICE5 supports 2.4 Tbps”), Ciena has decided to skip that milestone and move to 800 Gbps, matching the recent Infinite Capacity Engine 6 announcement by Infinera. As is the case with Infinera, Ciena sees coherent transmission extending closer to the network edge. The multiple versions of the WaveLogic 5 are designed to support this migration by offering coherent engines optimized for different space, power, and transmission requirements.

The WL5e offers support of multiple transmission rates, programmable in 50-Gbps increments, up to 800 Gbps over a single wavelength. The device should prove particularly supportive of the emerging generation of 400 Gigabit Ethernet routers; the company asserts in a press release that the WL5e will support the transmission of 400-Gbps client traffic “at any distance, from across the metro to across the ocean.” Based on information contained in a Ciena blog, the 800-Gbps capability will support single-span data center interconnect and short-reach metro applications, with 600-Gbps supported for regional network reaches. The WL5n, meanwhile, supports what Ciena calls “a range of solutions that meet specific space, power and operational requirements” that run from metro edge to the access. The WL5n will accommodate 100 to 400 Gbps, including 400ZR transmission for data center interconnect and related applications.

Ciena says the WL5 line incorporates advances in silicon photonics and indium photonics, which the company believes will give it more control over the design of the coherent optics it needs to accelerate time to market. Ciena says the WL5 family will be available in the second half of this year. The company plans to use the coherent engine on its converged packet-optical and packet networking platforms as well as make it available to other companies via its Optical Microsystems portfolio. Ciena announced in 2017 an agreement to license its WaveLogic AI technology to optical transceiver/transponder vendors Lumentum (NASDAQ: LITE), NeoPhotonics (NYSE: NPTN), and Oclaro (whom Lumentum subsequently purchased). That agreement was described at the time as giving these companies access to future iterations of the WaveLogic.

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