Lucent router to integrate optical networking

Due to the emergence of optical networking technology and the insatiable demand for network bandwidth, Lucent Technologies will introduce by year's end a `super' router that integrates Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technology.

DWDM, a core part of optical networking, allows multiple streams of traffic to be transmitted as different light frequencies in order to squeeze more data through the network.

As adoption of optical networking increases, routers capable of handling the increased traffic volumes are becoming a necessity.

`With DWDM, you will need terabit routers to terminate those channels,' said Dave Passmore, research director at NetReference, a network consulting company in Virginia. `We'll need really scalable routers to drive these fat pipes.'

Lucent's acquisition of startup Nexabit Networks in July for $US900 million put the company in the lead in the development of a next-generation router. Nexabit's product, the NX64000, is now in controlled introduction with selected service providers.

According to Mukesh Chatter, vice president of advanced IP core technologies at Lucent, the advantages of incorporating optical technology into the core of the router include cost savings and ease of network management.

Another feature of the NX64000 is its capability to interface directly to a DWDM infrastructure, allowing easy integration into an optical network.

`Optical technology allows us to offer a more integrated solution, which results in lower cost per bit,' Chatter said. `This is a major innovation in the routing space.'

Lucent officials say the NX64000 can support interfaces as high as OC-192 and will scale to speeds as fast as 6.4 terabits per second, per chassis.

According to Sam Alunni, president of Sterling Research in Massachusetts, the new breed of routers will have to provide more than just speed, however. In particular, he said that advanced quality-of-service (QoS) capabilities are also a necessity.

New generation

`You need a whole new generation of products to do things like video streaming,' Alunni said.

`[It is] the advanced QoS capabilities in these terabit routers that is really important.'

Other players in the high-speed routing space, such as Cisco Systems and Juniper, have had high-speed offerings in place in the market for more than a year.

Cisco's router, the Cisco 12000, has been available for 18 months, and Juniper's M40, released just over a year ago, is installed at ISPs such as UUNet, Verio, and Cable and Wireless.