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Posted by Stephen Hardy

As part of my research for a June issue article on 100G semiconductors (When will we see them?), I spoke with John D'Ambrosia in his role as a spokesman for the Ethernet Alliance. John also happens to be the head of the IEEE P802.3ba task force charged with developing the 40- and 100-Gigabit Ethernet specifications. While talking about chips, John also had a few things to say about optics for these emerging applications. Herewith a sampling:

On keeping 40GbE and 100GbE optical specs as simple as possible: "If you look back at the 10-gig optics, what initially came out of the group was more complicated than desirable, because most of the interfaces were XAUI based and you basically wound up having several layers that you put into your optics solution -- which quickly evolved to 'take all that stuff out.' And now we have simple solutions like the XFP or SFP+."

Which doesn't mean you won't see functions pulled out second- and third-generation 100GbE modules: He foresees three stages of module evolution. which are spelled out in a whitepaper on the Ethernet Alliance site.

On the recently announced 40GbE serial effort: "For this new effort, people are looking at doing a serial-type interface at 40-gig. And the carrier people are really driving this one. They really want to see a 40-gig serial interface that will allow them to coexist easier with their OC-768 equipment....I don't know where they're going to go with the electrical interfaces on that yet, and I think that remains to be seen for that project. I think that they'll probably leverage in the short term off of the same NAUI-type interface that we're talking about [for the current singlemode-based specs], and then have your internal muxes."

On the prospects for on-time ratification of the task force's current standards work: "At this point, I don't really see anything that's going to throw us off of schedule."

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Posted by Stephen Hardy

Aurora Networks today announced the NC2000, a new optical platform it developed for the European cable-TV market. In a pre-briefing I received on the announcement, I asked what was so European about it. The answers to that question provided an insight into the European cableco market.

Not surprisingly, the NC2000 is based on Aurora Networks' existing NC4000 platform. However, it needed to be repackaged for the European market. The company's vice president of marketing, John Dahlquist, says that most European cablecos have buried plant and the NC4000 was designed primarly for pole mounting. So the platform had to be packaged to so that most of the outputs were on one end of a shorter, more compact package that could be vertically mounted. Naturally, the trend in new housing developments in the U.S. is toward underground cabling, so Dahlquist says Aurora plans to offer a similar configuration to U.S. cablecos in the future. The other major difference is that European cablecos operate in different wavelength bands than their U.S. counterparts.

Meanwhile, Aurora Networks will offer its RFoG, RF PON, and related FTTH and "Fiber Deep" capabilities. Dahlquist says that European cablecos have expressed interest in RFoG and wouldn't necessarily insist on starting the standards process for such a capability from scratch. The fact that the current SCTE efforts are going to be PON friendly should make for a smooth transition to the European marketplace, he believes.

Dahlquist says the platform was developed by specific customer requirements and that deployment announcements should come in the near future. It will be interesting to see how close to the customer those carriers run fiber.

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The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions.

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave, which makes him responsible for the editorial aspects of the Lightwave franchise. A technology journalist since 1982, he once had his job duties described as "gets paid to tick off advertisers ".

Meghan Fuller is senior editor of Lightwave. She has degrees from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, and the University of Delaware and is a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation.