Friday, September 14, 2001

Xanoptix rolls out fast optical switch

Published in Interface Tech News

MERRIMACK, N.H. ‹ As part of its work in miniaturizing switching components, Xanoptix has unveiled a collaborative effort with Camarillo, Calif.-based Vitesse Semiconductor to introduce a small 100+ Gbps optical-in, optical-out switch.

Xanoptix, which has based its business on parallel optical interconnections for the telecom and datacom markets, is increasing the density of available components for switching circuit boards, according to Harald Hamster, the company's vice president of marketing and business development.

In the space taken up by a 12-fiber interconnect, Hamster said, the new device, combining Xanoptix's XTM-1 optical transceiver and Vitesse's VSC838 36x36 crosspoint switch, can fit a 72-fiber interconnect.

At present, Hamster said, the hardware can only handle multi-mode fiber traffic, but the company is looking beyond this current limitation.

"We will certainly expand our offerings into other wavelength regimes," Hamster said.

The new device is entering beta testing and is expected to be available in early 2002, Hamster said. The companies demonstrated the combination product at the National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference in Baltimore in early July.

Hamster called the demo a success, and said he got good response from potential buyers. "It shows we have a very real product and you can do real things," he said.

While the combination may work well, the marketing will still be carried out by both companies independently, Hamster said, though there may be some co-marketing.

The next step for Xanoptix is to carry the structure underlying the XTM-1 over to different optical wavelengths and longer-reaching systems.

Analyst Galen Schreck of Forrester Research is skeptical of the possibilities for Gigabit Ethernet. "We're still in the beginning phases," he said. "Once we get our protocols and applications lined up we'll be needing more high-bandwidth connections."

He expects the larger market to develop over the course of the next two to three years, though he is unsure whether Ethernet will maintain its dominance ‹ citing newcomers like InfiniBand, which will have some compliant components shipping in early 2002.

Schreck also said power and space constraints on switches aren't at a critical stage right now. "I don't see it being a widespread problem just yet," he said.