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Telecom Review Recently Visited with Ron Shore, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Infinera to get an update on their chip usage in optical gear.

Infinera is a leading provider of optical networking solutions, and Rob discussed chips in the context of their products and services. Chips, in this context, refer to the integrated circuits used in optical networking equipment.

Optical networking relies on the transmission of data through light signals rather than electrical signals. This technology enables high-speed and long-distance data transmission, making it crucial for modern telecommunications networks. In order to facilitate this transmission, optical networking equipment requires specialized chips that can handle the complex tasks involved.

With its' world-class team of scientists and engineers, Infinera has a proven track record of delivering game-changing advanced optical solutions. With an in-house optical semiconductor fab (OSF) and revolutionary photonic integrated circuits (PICs), Infinera takes innovative solutions from concept to development to production.

At Infinera’s optical semiconductor fab located in Sunnyvale, California, their engineers develop and manufacture industry-leading indium phosphide (InP)-based PICs for use in high-capacity optical networking solutions. InP is a compound semiconductor material ideal for optical functions that cannot be addressed by silicon. Infinera’s revolutionary PICs integrate tuneable lasers, optical amplifiers, high-speed modulators and detectors, and other functions onto a single chip to deliver leading-edge coherent optical transceivers.

Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, their purpose-built facility supports the clean manufacturing and packaging for their advanced optical engine and fiber optic networking technologies. This facility includes more than 20,000 square feet of Class 10,000 manufacturing and lab space, as well as a Class 100 clean room.

Infinera has a long history of industry firsts, including the first large-scale PIC, the first coherent PIC, the first commercial super-channels, the first Nyquist subcarriers, and the first point-to-multipoint coherent technology. Additional innovation highlights include SD-FEC gain sharing, long-codeword probabilistic constellation shaping (LC-PCS), and dynamic bandwidth allocation (DBA).

One key type of chip used in optical networking is the digital signal processor (DSP) chip. DSP chips are responsible for processing and manipulating the light signals transmitted through optical fibers. They perform functions such as modulation, demodulation, error correction, and signal amplification. DSP chips are designed to handle the specific requirements of optical networking, including high-speed data processing and low latency.

Another important type of chip used in optical networking is the application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). ASICs are custom-designed chips that are optimized for specific tasks or applications. In the context of optical networking, ASICs can be used for functions such as packet forwarding, traffic management, and encryption. By using ASICs, network equipment manufacturers can achieve higher performance and efficiency compared to using general-purpose processors.

FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) chips are also commonly used in optical networking equipment. FPGA chips offer flexibility as they can be reprogrammed or reconfigured after manufacturing. This allows network equipment manufacturers to adapt their products to different requirements or standards without having to redesign or replace hardware components. FPGA chips are often used for tasks such as protocol conversion, interface adaptation, and real-time data processing.

In addition to these specialized chips, optical networking equipment may also incorporate other types of chips such as memory chips for storing configuration data or firmware, power management chips for efficient energy usage, and interface chips for connecting with other network devices.

The development and optimization of these chips are crucial for the advancement of optical networking technology. Companies like Infinera invest significant resources in research and development to design and manufacture high-performance chips that meet the demanding requirements of modern optical networks. These chips undergo rigorous testing and validation processes to ensure their reliability, performance, and compatibility with other components in the network.

Chips play a vital role in the functioning of optical networking equipment. DSP chips, ASICs, FPGA chips, and other specialized chips are used to enable high-speed data transmission, perform complex signal processing tasks, and optimize network performance. The continuous improvement and innovation in chip design contribute to the advancement of optical networking technology.