In the 100G lab

11 July 2014 |

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100G, 500G, ultra-fast, super-channel. With so many different terms flying about in the industry – all basically relating to very fast internet speeds – what really is 100G?

100G, 500G, ultra-fast, super-channel. With so many different terms flying about in the industry – all basically amounting to very fast internet speeds – what really is 100G?

A terabit is a thousand gigabits, a gigabit is a thousand megabits, and eight terabits is the equivalent of the entire global internet in 2005,” explained Geoff Bennett, director of solutions and technology at Infinera, during a visit to the company’s laboratory in central London.

The industry has come a phenomenal distance since then and Infinera now offers 500Gbps line cards by the batch.

The company uses specifically designed chips in these line cards, capable of transmitting and receiving up to 500Gbps of data and Bennett says that they can get up to 9.5Tbps on the fibre today.

And the ease of provisioning this bandwidth is extraordinarily simple.

The laboratory comprised several rows of Infinera’s DTN-X products, each containing a variety of line cards depending on their size, and was noisy and cold thanks to the cooling systems in place.

Provisioning 100Gbps of bandwidth involves remembering a number of steps on the lab computer and maintaining a steady hand to indicate where the network was going from and to.

And then it was a matter of waiting mere seconds (I managed it in what I was told was a very commendable 40.1 seconds) before the system kicked in and the 100Gbps bandwidth went live.

Despite the vast capacities available, Bennett says that even now there are very few companies with enough data to fill 500Gbps on their own, meaning they are split up into batches of 10Gbps, 40Gbps or of course the golden 100Gbps.

But somehow I don’t imagine a lack of data is a problem telcos are going to struggle with in years to come.

Infinera, in common with many other providers, builds optical networks based on the idea of creating an “infinite pool of intelligent bandwidth”.

Intelligent because it is controlled by protocols that simplify and speed-up the process of creating connections, and infinite because it enables the company to scale up quickly.

And at this rate, the sky really is the limit.