Facebook (News - Alert) has become a key force – perhaps the key force – in moving networking forward. And I’m not just talking about social networking.
The company is pushing suppliers to help it improve networking on a wide number of fronts. That includes everything from its leadership around data center cabinet and rack redesigns, to changes in optical networking, to submarine cable communications.
One of Facebook’s latest efforts involves the latter. The company has been doing field trials with Nokia (News - Alert). And the pair recently revealed that those efforts have yielded some record-breaking results.
A field trial on a 5,500-kilometer submarine cable running between New York and Ireland leveraged shaped 64 QAM technology to achieve 7.46 b/s/Hz spectral efficiency. That's a record, topping the next best results in this area by nearly two and a half times, according to Facebook and Nokia.
In a different trial, this one involving a 11,000-kilometer round trip submarine transmission, 64 QAM techniques enabled the companies to achieve a record spectral efficiency of 5.68 b/s/Hz. This field trial also marked the first demonstration of 200 and 250 gigabit per second wavelengths and 16 QAM.
“This field trial with Nokia demonstrates that the scalable optical technology of PCS together with narrow linewidth laser sources can achieve capacities extremely close to the Shannon limit,” commented Stephen Grubb, Facebook’s global optical network architect. “This ensures that we are both maximizing our investment in submarine cable systems, as well as continuing to drive the cost per bit of submarine transport lower."
PCS stands for probabilistic constellation shaping technology. And it’s a key area of research at Nokia Bell Labs (News - Alert). As the name suggests, it uses shaped quadrature amplitude modulation formats to flexibly adjust transmission capacity to near the physical limits of a given fiber optic connection.
As noted above, improving submarine transmission efficiency is just one of many areas with which Facebook is involved.
Facebook also has been working on an open DWDM transport solution called Voyager. And it collaborated with a handful of vendors to create what it calls the industry’s first white box transponder and routing solution. Facebook also has contributed the Voyager blueprint to the Telecom Infra Project via the Backhaul: Open Optical Packet Transport project group, so any vendor can build solutions based on it.
Facebook’s work on Voyager is part of a larger effort by the company to push networking forward through what it calls the Open Compute Project. OCP (News - Alert) was initiated by Facebook because the company couldn’t find in the marketplace the solutions it needed to work at hyperscale, so it started to build the hardware and software solutions it needed itself and in partnership with other companies. OCP work has included FBOSS, a Linux-based software, and the Wedge top-of-rack data center switches on which it runs, among other solutions.
Edited by Alicia Young