Mitsubishi transponder aims to cut fibre jungle

Mitsubishi has developed an optical transponder for use in high-end networking gear which promises to reduce the amount of...

Mitsubishi has developed an optical transponder for use in high-end networking gear, which promises to reduce the amount of fibre-optic cable in server rooms and office buildings.

The transponder can handle data at up to 40Gbps and is designed for use in routers and switches used in data centres and corporations. Such high bandwidths are needed to connect groups of servers together. Most equipment works at either 2.5Gbps or 10Gbps.

By using Mitsubishi's transponder, however, the size of equipment can be cut and the number of fibre-optic cables can be reduced. For example, a single 40Gbps optical networking card can replace four 10Gbps cards or 16 2.5Gbps cards and cable can be reduced by similar amounts, the company claimed.

The system can send light up to 2km 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 and Agilent Technologies about use of the device in their products, said Kuniaki Motoshima, a manager at Mitsubishi Electric's optical communication technology department.

Manufacturers can expect to pay around double the price of a 10Gbps transponder.

Beyond commercialisation of the 40Gbps transponder, Motoshima said his department was not looking at higher data rates but at refining the product.

The 40Gbps transponder draws around 25 watts compared with 10 watts for a 10Gbps transponder  so it is comparatively already more power-efficient. Mitsubishi is targeting power consumption of less than 20 watts.

"I don't think 80Gbps or 160Gbps will be in common use within [the next] five years," he said. "Existing fibre [optic cable] cannot support such high rates."

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