Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ten Companies Team with Georgia Tech to Form 100G Consortium

Ten companies have joined forces with the Georgia Institute of Technology to establish the Georgia Tech 100G Optical Networking Consortium, which is believed to be the first academic-industrial consortium of its kind in the world. To date, more than $2.2 million in support has been designated for this facility by the consortium’s founding research members: ADVA Optical Networking, Ciena, OFS, and Verizon – and by supporting members Avanex, IBM, Narda Microwave East, Nistica, Picometrix, and RSoft Design Group.

The consortium and facility allow academic and industry personnel to perform multidisciplinary research in all aspects of 100-gigabit-per-second transmission, supported by the diverse and complementary strengths of the industrial partners and faculty members. Research topics range from fundamental studies of 100G optical transmission to assessment of optical and electronic technologies that will be used in such high-speed optical networks.

A variety of network architectures will be studied, including realistic impairments found in regional and ultra long haul links. These efforts also actively support the upcoming IEEE 100G standard for short reach, client-side transport in the local area network and future IEEE standards for short reach transmission over laser-optimized, multi-mode fiber in data centers.

Historically, networking infrastructure has migrated to systems with increased transmission capacity, thereby allowing increased efficiency and the delivery of content-rich services, noted Stephen E. Ralph, the consortium’s director and a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Critical to the success of these new technologies is the ability to deploy them over existing fiber infrastructure, which is equivalent to increasing the capacity of a highway 10-fold without changing the roadway, he said.

“Our industry-led effort creates a unique opportunity for students and industry to define and validate the enabling technologies necessary for 100G networks,” Ralph said. “The creation of this consortium at Georgia Tech enhances the competitiveness of our member companies, creating job growth in this critical area of communications and networking. The faculty of Georgia Tech is uniquely able to advance understanding in signal processing, high-speed circuits, and optical components and systems. This unique combination, together with the expertise of our industry researchers, will enable member companies to develop and demonstrate technical advantages and accelerate deployment of next generation systems and services while simultaneously influencing the next generation standards.”

Located in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square Research Building, the new 100G test bed and extensive supporting simulation capabilities enable rigorous and independent evaluation of optical and electronic signal processing strategies, new modulation formats and receiver technologies, high-speed silicon CMOS-based electronics, and classical/modern forward error correction, all in realistic optical fiber transport and electronic transceiver environments.

Co-director of the effort is Gee-Kung Chang, Byers Eminent Scholar Chair in optical networking. Joining Ralph and Chang in the quest for 100Gbps transport is Byers Professor John D. Cressler, whose research addresses high-speed electronics challenges, and Professor John Barry, whose work focuses on critical signal processing issues. Chang, Cressler and Barry are also based in ECE.

“Expertise in these three critical areas, in one place, cannot be found anywhere else, and lets the faculty team and their industry collaborators consider all of these factors at once,” added Ralph, who specializes in optics and photonics technologies. “Our corporate partners and our faculty members realize that performing these functions in a vacuum no longer works; everyone has to work together to achieve practical 100G performance.”

Construction on the Consortium’s 100G test bed started in July 2008 and was made possible with additional support from the Georgia Tech Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Research and Innovation and the Georgia Research Alliance. The first test bed link, which will allow testing of new modulation concepts within a point-to-point link engineered for 10Gbps systems, became fully functional in November 2008. Two additional milestones, which will include the creation of a long-haul DWDM mesh network environment exceeding 1,000 kilometers, will be met by July 2009, when the facility will be fully functional.

Growth for Phase 2 is expected to bring in additional corporate support and faculty involvement in the areas of dynamic mesh networks and network security. This facility will enhance the current capabilities of the Georgia Electronic Design Center.

“The 100G effort makes Georgia Tech the place to be for those interested in pursuing 100G technologies,” said Mark Allen, senior vice provost for research and innovation and a Regents’ professor in ECE. “From an economic development perspective, the implications could be huge, as our faculty, students, and industry partners create technologies that support 100G transport and that could be commercialized in a number of ways.”

Graduate students involved with this new consortium are receiving valuable technical experience that will serve them well in internships, co-op assignments, and beyond.

“We are very happy that these companies have chosen to support the 100G consortium and ECE,” said Gary S. May, Steve W. Chaddick School Chair of ECE. “Our students are seeing best technical practices in action and having important technical concepts enhanced and reinforced that they are learning in our electronics, digital signal processing, and optics and photonics courses. Upon graduation, our students will be ready to actively contribute to their employers in academia and industry.”

The Consortium’s industry members see benefits from the strong collaborations with Georgia Tech faculty and students.

“A close collaboration between industry and academia is crucial for successful development of new technologies,” said Michael Frankel, transport technology director at Ciena. “In addition to financial support, Ciena will leverage its proven ability to take breakthrough technologies into commercial products.”

Christoph Glingener, chief technology officer for ADVA Optical Networking, said the consortium is essential to the company’s ability to evaluate and drive future technologies. “As a global innovation leader in the field of optical networks, we are proud to participate in this partnership in order to drive component, systems and network performance,” he explained. “We are also pleased to support the education process for the students of Georgia Tech, enabling focused research on areas of importance to the future of our industry.”

The diverse interests of the collaborators will help create a better understanding of issues in 100 Gbps transport.

“OFS is delighted to be working with a major global carrier, two systems companies, leading optoelectronic and RF designers, and both optical and signal processing faculty and students at Georgia Tech to develop a deeper understanding the science of 100 Gbps transport,” said Robert Lingle, Jr., director of fiber design and systems research at OFS. “We believe this research partnership will further enhance OFS’ position as industry leader in the development of next-generation solutions in the field of optical fibers, cables and photonic modules.”

“This consortium is an excellent example of the industry and university collaboration necessary to develop and test the next generation component technologies that will enable 100 Gbps optical transport on both the line side and client side,” stated Rob Risser, president and general manager of Picometrix. “Close collaboration with consortium members will help accelerate our development and deployment of advanced 100 Gbps optical receivers.”

Ralph and his colleagues from Ciena, OFS and ADVA Optical Networking presented their interests related to the 100G consortium, company goals, and their vision for the evolution of optical networks at the Fall 2008 Internet2 Member Meeting, held in New Orleans, La. October 13-16. They plan to present related materials at the Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exposition and The National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference to be held in San Diego, Calif. from March 22 to 26.

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