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Intel accelerates dynamic bandwidth provisioning

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Intel has acquired the network tunable laser business and technology from New Focus for US$50 million, enabling the chip giant to accelerate the deployment of DWDM equipment.

The technology will allow Intel to offer small form factor, low-cost tunable optical transceivers to accelerate the deployment of dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) equipment.

In the future, tunable laser technology will also promote dynamic provisioning – the ability of service providers to rapidly shift capacity to add bandwidth in response to customer needs.

Providers are currently facing a growth in demand for bandwidth, but tight capital expense budgets mean it is not cost-effective to increase network capacity by extending the current infrastructure.

That’s where DWDM equipment comes into play.

DWDM separates light waves that travel over existing optical fibres into as many as 80 individual wavelengths, each capable of carrying 10 Gigabits of data per second, effectively expanding the available bandwidth of current fibre infrastructure by up to 80 times.

Tunable transceivers also solve the main drawback with DWDM – that each wavelength has typically required a separate ‘fixed wavelength’ laser designed to drive a specific wavelength or colour of light over the fibre.

This means that a 40-channel DWDM solution would require equipment manufacturers to stock 40 different transceivers, each with a different laser.

Tunable transceivers can be adjusted through software to send different wavelengths of light over a single fibre, meaning OEMs need only qualify and stock a single tunable transceiver rather than different fixed wavelength parts.

“The acquisition augments the significant optical networking business that Intel has built over the past several years as well as our silicon design and manufacturing capabilities,” Intel optical products group general manager Gordon Hunter said.

“In particular, the addition of New Focus’ tunable laser technology to the industry leading optical packaging technology we gained through the acquisition of LightLogic last year positions Intel as a leader in DWDM building blocks for the optical networking market segment.”

As part of the agreement, Intel will also license technology and supply certain products to New Focus, allowing it to continue supplying products to the test and measurement market segments.

Approximately 40 New Focus staff will also be transferred to Intel.

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