Mitsubishi 40G bps transponder to help cut fiber jungle

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a optical transponder for use in high-end networking gear that promises to significantly reduce the amount of fiber-optic cable running around server rooms and through office buildings.

The new transponder, which was unveiled by researchers on Thursday, can handle data at up to 40G bps and is designed for use in routers and switches used in data centers and corporations. Such high bandwidths are typically needed to connect groups of servers together and most current equipment works at either 2.5G bps or 10G bps.

By utilizing the new transponder, the size of equipment can be cut and the number of fiber-optic cables can be reduced. For example, a single 40G-bps optical networking card can replace four 10G-bps cards or 16 2.5G-bps cards and cable can be reduced by similar amounts.

The system can send light up to 2 kilometers and complies with the ITU-T G.693 standard, which covers optical transmission systems for intra-office and short range use.

The transponder will be available commercially in September and Mitsubishi is already talking to potential customers including Cisco Systems Inc. and Agilent Technologies Inc. about use of the device in their products, said Kuniaki Motoshima, a manager at Mitsubishi Electric's optical communication technology department. It is likely to cost manufacturers around double the price of a 10G-bps transponder.

Beyond commercialization of the 40G-bps transponder, Motoshima said his department is not looking at higher data rates but at refining the current product.

"We are not targeting higher data rates but looking at reducing power consumption," he said. The 40G-bps transponder draws around 25 watts compared to 10 watts for a 10G-bps transponder so it is comparatively already more power-efficient but Mitsubishi is targeting power consumption of less than 20 watts.

"I don't think 80G bps or 160G bps will be in common use within (the next) five years," he said. "Current fiber (optic cable) cannot support such high rates."

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