Compass-EOS puts optical interface directly onto core router chip

Created March 11, 2013
Technologies and Products

Start-up Compass-EOS has announced availability of an IP core router based on an electronic chip with a terabit-plus optical interface. 

Having an optical interface directly to the silicon – which includes a merchant network processor – simplifies the system design and enables the router to incorporate such features as real output queuing, the start-up says. The r10004 IP router is in production and is already deployed in an operator’s network. 
The company’s icPhotonics chip integrates 168 x 8Gbps VCSELs and 168 photodetectors for a bandwidth of 1.344Tbps each direction. Eight of these chips are connected in a full mesh, doing away with the need for a router’s switch fabric and mid-plane used to interconnect the router cards. 
This saves on power consumption, space and cost, says Asaf Somekh, vice president of marketing at Compass-EOS. The start-up estimates that its platform’s total cost of ownership over five years is a quarter to a third of competing IP core routers.  
The high-bandwidth optical links will also enable system interconnect. Compass-EOS is coming to market with a standalone 6U-high platform but says it will connect up to 21 platforms that appear as one large logical router. 
The 800Gbps-capacity IP router comes with 2x100Gbps and 20x10Gbps line cards. The platform has real output queuing where all the input ports’ packets are queued before quality of service is applied prior to the exit port. The router also supports software-defined networking to enable external control of traffic.
The start-up refers to its optical interface IC as silicon photonics but a more accurate description is integrated silicon-optics; silicon itself is not used used as a medium for light. However, Compass-EOS’s platform shows how optics can be used for chip-to-chip links to enable disruptive system designs. 
Somekh says the development of the integrated optical interface has been challenging, requiring three years of development working with the Fraunhofer Institute and Tel-Aviv University. One challenge was developing a glue to fix the VCSELs on top of the silicon.
The start-up has raised over $120 million with investors such as Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telekom and Comcast as well as several venture capitalist firms. 
By Roy Rubenstein

See Also: 

Press release: Compass-EOS Introduces the World’s First Direct Silicon-to-Photonics-Based Router Family


This article was written
by Roy Rubenstein

is the editor of and has been researching and writing about the telecom and semiconductor industries for over 20 years.