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Firm takes optical burst switching to market

Posted: 01 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Matisse Networks? optical transport? optical burst switching? Internet Protocol? DWDM?

Matisse Networks Inc. has been the subject of healthy speculation for three years, ever since it generated venture funding in optical realms after being told optical transport technology was all but dead. Even as it pursued metro Ethernet aggregation, Matisse was also examining optical burst switching, a method of native optical switching rarely attempted outside of academia and the Defense Department.

Matisse recently introduced a dual-node system that puts burst switching to practical use, based on a topology that's meant to compete with Internet Protocol (IP)-over-dense wave-division multiplexing (DWDM).

Matisse's Photonic Node is a fixed-filter optical transport system for the core. Rather than using the pair commitments of many optical transport technologies, the Photonic Node can link with any other like node on the network. The system can scale to 640Gbps.

But its Ethernet Service Node is something else again. At the heart of the pizza-box-size system, a subunit, TAP, combines an optical transponder called Tango with the company's proprietary MeshWave FPGA for advanced packet forwarding.

Timon Sloane, VP of marketing at Matisse, said the company has opted for commodity components when possiblefor example, the tunable C-band laser from JDS Uniphase used at the heart of the transponderbut has applied its own switch and locking control software to the laser.

No such commercial options were possible for MeshWave, a special network processor that applies Ethernet-oriented collision-avoidance and QoS algorithms to packets that start out as optically switched data. MeshWave was based on an FPGA designed at Matisse specifically for burst-switch-to-Ethernet transitions.

The MeshWave processor must schedule burst transmissions for the Photonic Node to insure against collisions. Ethernet frames are mapped into optical bursts using advanced algorithms such as color-based addressing schemes. At the other end of the Service Node, the system integrates full gigabit/10GbE switch to switch packet traffic into access networks.

Video delivery
While every metro Ethernet player is crowing about IPTV, Matisse has some specific ideas on video delivery using its EtherBurst switch. Because the company is talking to cable multisystem operators as potential carrier customers, Matisse is chumming up to digital ad-insertion players, showing that the EtherBurst will allow customized, local-ad insertion in IPTV flows. Because the switch inherently works as well with multicasting as it does with unicast and broadcast, it will be optimized for IPTV.

Sloane said competition will come chiefly from companies combining DWDM with reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers (ROADMs), such as Adva Optical Networking, and from solutions using Layer 3 routing over DWDM, as Cisco Systems Inc. offers with its IP-over-DWDM products. Matisse switches electronically at Layer 2 levels, while its transport optical switching uses burst technologies.

"You see players like Cisco and Adva trying to expand DWDM capabilities with precisely this market in mind," Sloane said. "We think our architecture already is optimized to take on DWDM directly."

Sloane said that not only will Matisse move beyond the Layer 2 switch for optical burst platforms, but it also expects other vendors to integrate optical burst switches into ROADMs and DWDM systems.

- Loring Wirbel
EE Times

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