Infinera addresses DCI, fiber-deep architectures with 2.4 Tbps optical engine

Fiber optic cable being laid in New South Wales, Australia for NBN Co. (Image: Bidgee / Wikimedia Commons)
Infinera gives service providers another bandwidth upgrade option with the introduction of its ICE5 terabit optical engine. (Bidgee / Wikimedia Commons).

SAN DIEGO—Infinera has introduced ICE5, a 2.4 Tbps optical engine, marking the latest addition to the company’s family of Infinite Capacity Engines. 

Targeting internet content providers (ICPs), scaling connections between data centers and communications service providers (CSPs), planning fiber-deep architectures including distributed access architecture (DAA) and 5G mobile backhaul, ICE5 builds on the success of ICE4 in metro, long-haul and subsea applications.

The vendor named the platform ICE5 because it incorporated the fifth generation of its PIC (photonic integrated circuit), which is what the company initially built its product portfolio around since it emerged in the late 1990s. What’s more, the platform lays the groundwork for towards the ICE6, which is the next step in the optical vendor’s product evolution.

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Industry forecasts about next-gen cloud and mobile services growth drive the need for a platform like ICE5.

Gartner’s forecast for cloud computing anticipates a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent through 2020 and the Ericsson Mobility Report expects total mobile data traffic to rise at a CAGR of 42 percent through 2022, accelerating demand for optical network capacity at ICPs and CSPs worldwide. 

ICE5 integrates Infinera’s fifth generation photonic integrated circuit with a FlexCoherent digital signal processor and fine-grain software control to deliver 100 to 600 Gbps in a 2.4 Tbps optical engine.

Infinera claimed that ICE5 enables greater capacity, reach, spectral and power efficiency. Designed to support 40 Tbps on a single fiber within a fraction of a data center rack, ICE5 increases capacity up to 65% on deployed networks while reducing power by 60%.

Jay Gill, principal manager of cloud and SDN marketing for Infinera, said the platform is a 2.4 Tbps optical engine with flexible digital processors that will be released next year.  

Jay Gill

“ICE5 has photonic integrated circuits as well as flex coherent digital signaling processors,” Gill said in an interview with FierceTelecom. “What we’re going to get out of this is at the top line 600 Gbps per wavelength.”

What enables such speeds is the support for 64QAM modulation and enhanced optical performance up to 66 Gigabaud.

Gill said that the photonic engine was built to be flexible to accommodate various distances across a subsea or traditional network metro or long-haul deployment.

“We can also be flexible in terms of baud rate and modulation because it’s important for the engine handle different kinds reaches and be able to get the maximum capacity out of whatever reach we need,” Gill said. “This means we’re finely tuning the actual capacity per wave to match the reach required.”

A flexible approach

Infinera Instant Network enables software automation of ICE-based platforms, allowing customers to pay for capacity as they need, matching expense to revenue, increasing network agility and lowering total cost of ownership.

Over 70 Infinera customers, including the top three subsea customers and more than 60% of data center interconnect customers, are using Infinera Instant Network to scale capacity on demand. 

“ICE5 also plugs into Infinera’s total solution story, which includes software automation and instant network approach,” Gill said. “Those elements were already in place for ICE4 and will continue to be valuable as we move to ICE5 and ICE6.”

While Infinera’s customers will start adopting the next generation of ICE5 and eventually ICE6, Gill said the newer solutions will complement ICE4.

“As ICE5 first targets certain parts of the market, ICE4 will continue to coexist in several of our customer requirements quite nicely,” Gill said. “They will complement one another.”

Gill added that this coexistence between ICE4 and ICE5 is a good thing for “some of our CSP customers because they don’t want to do a network refresh on the latest technology every two years.”

DCI, deep fiber opportunities

Like other optical vendors, Infinera sees an opportunity to take advantage of the deep fiber opportunity set by cable operators and data center providers.

These deep fiber initiatives are being driven for different reasons.

Already serving data center providers with Cloud Scale Express, the ICE5 platform will support multi-terabit scale. Offering a disaggregated network architecture, the new platform will provide data center providers 100 GbE and 400 GbE clients.

“With the cloud scale dense interconnect market we serve today with Cloud Express as well as long-haul, ICE5 fits well with that application where it’s multi-terabit scale and not a lot of sophisticated service grooming,” Gill said. “It’s all about getting a provider the biggest capacity for the lowest cost of ownership and for ICPs a disaggregated architecture where we’re running over another line system or there’s multiple vendors in the network.”

ICE5 will also be able to accommodate the mobile and cable access architectures that are expanding to handle bandwidth demands closer to the endpoints of the networks. As wireless operators migrate to 5G, they will need for high capacity aggregation. In the cable network, the emergence of Fiber Deep and the DAA will create similar optical networking demands.

“We’re already targeting those applications with the ICE4 products that are compact architectures for the data center market,” Gill said. “ICE 5 will fit in there very well as an initial target market.”