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Alca-Lu cooks up 400 Gbps router interconnect

Data centre links embiggened

Increasing data centre interconnect requirements have prompted Alcatel-Lucent to introduce 400 Gbps line cards for its high-end routers.

Manish Gulyani, product marketing veep for the company's IP Business, told The Register there are multiple aims with the launch: it eliminates kit that would otherwise be needed to interconnect routers at such high speeds; and it gets rid of the efficiency penalty suffered by trying to aggregate multiple 100 Gbps links to achieve the same end.

“We think this is the first 400 Gbps IP router interconnect,” Gulyani said.

“100 Gbps has become the currency of use in backbone networks,” he said, “but data centres are starting to push the limits and want multiple 100 Gbps links.”

Replacing an aggregated link with a single link is more efficient, Gulyani said, because aggregated links lose some capacity to management overheads, and load balancing across four links isn't perfect – “you never get the optimum maximum traffic”, he said.

“If you go to a single clear channel, it's a single IP pipe, and when you start reaching the higher speeds, the customers care a lot about cost and performance”.

Alca-Lu designed the 400 Gbps capacity into the 7750 SR-12e and 7950 XRS routers it introduced in 2011, Gulyani said with the silicon ready for the line interface (the FP3 routing silicon). That means existing customers won't need to change router platforms to get the higher-speed links.

The line cards can span between 500-600 km on a single fibre pair at full speed. The system uses standard optics and channel spacing, so it can be multiplexed with other signals without system modifications.

Alcatel-Lucent starts shipping the line cards in March. ®

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