NEC unveils Gigabit Ethernet multiplexer

NEC Corp. took the wraps off its MG8000 Gigabit Ethernet multiplexer on Wednesday as the Networld+Interop 2001 Tokyo exhibition opened its doors.

The multiplexer is primarily designed for use on metropolitan area networks (MANs) and takes combine traffic from up to 32 fibre-optic cables carrying 100M bps (bits per second) Ethernet into a single fibre-optic cable.

“The first major application (for the multiplexer) may be for optical Ethernet broadband access systems,” said Shuji Suzuki, manager of NEC Networks’ development laboratories. Japanese carriers are just beginning to roll out fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) based services in central Tokyo using optical Ethernet. “The 100M bps broadband service is becoming popular. In this case, the aggregated amount of traffic can be increased to several gigabits per second.”

The device consists of up to four optical Ethernet multiplexers and a CWDM (coarse wavelength division multiplexing) unit. Each of the optical Ethernet units has eight ports and is capable of taking up to eight signals and mixing them, using time division multiplex, into a single 10G bps optical signal. The CWDM unit can take the 10G bps output from the four multiplexers and mix them into a single 40G bps CWDM optical stream.

Two different versions of the CWDM unit are available. One version has a 1.3-micrometre laser and is capable of producing a signal that can travel up to 10 kilometres while the second version uses a more expensive 1.55-micrometer laser and can send a signal up to 40 kilometres. CWDM systems are designed for short-haul networks in which light waves are spaced farther apart than on the dense WDM (DWDM) systems used in long-distance networks like backbones and submarine cables.

“A second application is maybe as a transport system between data centres and Internet exchange points,” said Suzuki, outlining the company’s hope that, in addition to FTTH systems, the new hardware will find customers among data centre users who need to connect to local Internet exchanges. Many data centers are being constructed within 40 kilometres of major Internet exchange points and need to high-capacity links to the exchanges.

NEC expects to start shipping the product in Japan in September and will follow with launches in North America and Europe, the precise timing of which has not yet been decided. In Japan the unit in minimum configuration will cost 8 million yen (US$66,667).

NEC, in Tokyo, can be contacted at