Monday, January 29, 2018

Nokia's ReefShark silicon cuts massive MIMO antenna size and power consumption

Nokia unveiled its ReefShark 5G chipsets for radio frequency (RF) units such as the radio used in antennas. The chipsets, which were developed in-house, significantly improve radio performance resulting in halving the size of massive MIMO antennas. Nokia says its ReefShark chipsets also reduce power consumption in baseband units by 64%, compared to current technology.

The ReefShark chipsets comprise:

  • ReefShark Digital Front End for LTE and 5G radio systems supporting massive MIMO
  • ReefShark RFIC front-end module and transceiver: massive MIMO Adaptive Antenna solution
  • ReefShark Baseband Processor: All-in-one compute heavy design, capable of supporting the massive scale requirements of 5G. This is the brain power of baseband processing.

The ReefShark chipsets for compute capacity are delivered as plug-in units for the commercially available Nokia AirScale baseband module. The new plug-in units triple throughput from 28 Gbps today to up to 84 Gbps per module. Additionally, AirScale baseband module chaining supports base station throughputs of up to 6 terabits per second. Nokia said this level of performance will allow operators to meet the huge growing densification demands and support the massive enhanced mobile broadband needs of people and devices in megacities.

Nokia also announced that it is working with 30 operators using ReefShark and will ramp up field deployments during the third quarter of 2018.

Henri Tervonen, CTO of Nokia Mobile Networks and head of R&D Foundation said: "With ReefShark, Nokia has created a clear competitive advantage. Its combination of power, intelligence and efficiency make it ideally suited to be at the heart of fast arriving 5G networks."

Zayo to Acquire Neutral Path for midwest fiber routes

Zayo agreed to acquire Neutral Path Communications, a long haul infrastructure provider operating a fiber network in the Midwest.

The transaction will add 452 owned plus additional leased route miles to Zayo’s extensive North American network, including a unique, high-count fiber route from Minneapolis to Omaha. The assets are highly complementary to Zayo’s Midwestern long haul dark fiber footprint.

The deal was valued at $31.5 million.

Zayo said the acquisition enables it to sell multi-city dark fiber and fiber-based lit solutions from Minneapolis into Omaha, extending to Denver, Kansas City, Tulsa, Dallas, Des Moines, Chicago and other major markets.

“This is another example of executing on our ‘tuck-in’ strategy, acquiring companies that add strategic assets that we can leverage immediately,” said Jack Waters, CTO and president of Fiber Solutions at Zayo. “Based on expressed customer demand, we’re confident we will quickly be able to pursue the robust funnel of sales opportunities and grow the revenue base on these assets.”

T-Mobile US commits to 100% renewable energy by 2021

T-Mobile US announced a commitment to cover 100% of its energy usage by 2021  with renewable electricity.  The company has joined RE100, a global initiative uniting businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity.

To reach this goal, T-Mobile will count every unit of electricity consumed by its network, offices and stores and then source the equivalent amount from wind farms. The company has finalized a contract for 160 MWs from Infinity Renewables’ Solomon Forks Wind Project in Kansas, with power generation slated to begin in early 2019. T-Mobile also has a deal with the Red Dirt Wind Project operated by Enel Green Power in Oklahoma. The Red Dirt Wind Project went online this past December. Combined, the two will generate 320 MWs for T-Mobile, enough to meet an estimated 60% of the Un-carrier’s total energy needs nationwide.

“It’s the Un-carrier way to do the right thing by our customers, and moving to renewable energy is just a natural part of that,” said John Legere, president and CEO at T-Mobile. “And it’s not just the right thing to do – it’s smart business! We expect to cut T-Mobile’s energy costs by around $100 million in the next 15 years thanks to this move. Imagine the awesome things we can do for our customers with that!”

Aquantia intros automotive Ethernet portfolio- multi-gig over copper

Aquantia, which is known for its multi-gig Ethernet over copper PHY technologies, introduced an automotive networking portfolio and announced a collaboration with NVIDIA to provide Multi-Gig networking support for the NVIDIA DRIVE Xavier and DRIVE Pegasus platforms.

The market for automotive Ethernet could be many times larger than the data center, enterprise and access segments where multi-gig Ethernet-over-copper used today. Future vehicles, especially Level 4/5 autonomous vehicles, will require high-performance onboard networks to connect cameras, sensors, and displays with GPUs and CPUs.

Level 4/5 requirements include multiple high-resolution videos cameras, some of which are expected to be up to 4K60p at 20-bit resolution requiring full 10 Gbps connectivity. The network must be secure and redundant. It must also use reliable and low-cost cabling. For these reasons, Aquantia believes its multi-gig Ethernet over copper technologies are best suited for the task.

Aquantia's AQcelerate Automotive product line includes the following devices, which all support data rates up to 10GbE:
  • The AQV107 Multi-Gig PHY
  • The AQVC107 PCIe Multi-Gig MAC+PHY Ethernet controller
  • The AQVC100 PCIe Multi-Gig controller (MAC only)
“The number one feature for self-driving vehicles is safety,” said Faraj Aalaei, Chairman and CEO of Aquantia Corp. “Vehicle sensors and cameras collect huge amounts of data that need instant processing to allow the vehicle to make critical decisions that ensure the safety of the driver, passengers, and anyone else sharing the road. Moving data between the sensors and the compute nodes within the In-Vehicle Network (IVN) requires Multi-Gig capabilities to deliver a safe and secure driving experience.”

Aquantia confirmed that its new products deliver the 10Gbps Ethernet connectivity for the NVIDIA DRIVE Xavier and DRIVE Pegasus platforms for autonomous vehicles. NVIDIA's DRIVE Xavier processor parses all the information to understand a full 360-degree perception around the vehicle and determine the presence and movement of pedestrians, other vehicles and objects as it plans a safe path forward. The Aquantia Ethernet products communicate the data and decisions back and forth throughout the system at 10Gbps over automotive Ethernet cables.

Earlier this month at CES, Aquantia announced a partnership with Molex, which has developed a 10 Gbps Automotive Ethernet Network solution for connecting Electronic Control Units (ECUs) throughout a vehicle. The Molex Automotive Ethernet solution uses Aquantia's new silicon.

Crehan: 400GbE to drive most data center Ethernet switch bandwidth by 2022

Expect to see initial shipments of 400 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switches this year and look for exponential growth ahead. The 400 GbE technology will drive the majority of data center Ethernet switch bandwidth by 2022, according to a newly published Data Center Switch Long-Range Forecast Report from Crehan Research Inc.

“Beginning with high-density 100GbE systems, we entered a new era of much faster data center switch upgrades, and that trend is predicted to continue with 400GbE,” said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research.  "With its expected market-leading price per gigabit and no foreseeable shortage of demand for higher-speed networking capacity in cloud data centers, 400GbE should surpass a million ports shipped in less time than it took 100GbE to reach that threshold.” 

In addition to a strong ramp of 400GbE, Crehan’s report predicts that: 

  • 400GbE data center switches will offer a bandwidth discount over lower speed switches during the initial year of shipments
  • 400GbE adoption will be further bolstered by the arrival of 100G-PAM4 SerDes, likely in the 2020 timeframe, thus reducing the number of lanes required to achieve 400GbE by half – from 8*50 to 4*100 – and further lessening the cost and power of these data center switches
  • 100GbE shipments will surpass 40GbE shipments during 2018, just three years after the initial shipments of high-density 100GbE data center switch systems
  • The overall market average selling price per port for data center switching will remain relatively stable, driven by the adoption of higher-speed switches 

New spec released for Small Form Factor Pluggable Double Density MSA

The Small Form Factor Pluggable Double Density (SFP-DD) Multi Source Agreement (MSA) Group released an updated specification for the SFP-DD pluggable interface. An initial version was released in September 2017. This update (version 1.1) reflects enhancements to the mechanicals and drawings of the high-speed, high-density SFP-DD electrical interface comprising a module and cage/connector system targeting support up to 3.5 W optical modules in an enterprise environment.

The SFP-DD MSA Group was formed last year to foster the development of next-generation SFP form factors used in DAC and AOC cabling, and optical transceivers. The electrical interface is designed to support two lanes that operate up to 25 Gbps NRZ or 56 Gbps PAM4 per lane modulation—providing aggregate bandwidth of 50 Gbps NRZ or 112 Gbps PAM4 with excellent signal integrity.

In combination, an SFP-DD server port and QSFP-DD switch ports can effectively double port density in network applications.

SFP-DD MSA founding members include Alibaba, Broadcom, Cisco, Dell EMC, Finisar, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, Lumentum, Mellanox Technologies, Molex, and TE Connectivity.

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MATRIXX raises $40 million for its telco reinvention software

MATRIXX Software, a start-up based in Saratoga, California announced $40 million in Series C funding for its next-gen digital commerce platform for telco and related industries.

MATRIXX Software’s Digital Commerce platform aims to reinvent telco business support systems by bringing together typically separate applications for product design and lifecycle management, customer engagement, service delivery and monetization into a single, comprehensive platform.

The company reports 130 percent year-over-year growth, adding new customers across North America, UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

“We founded MATRIXX on the principles of digital scale and agility. We design software with both the Telco and the end consumer in mind to deliver capabilities that will provide valuable and meaningful change to the way Telco’s operate,” said Dave Labuda, founder, CEO and CTO of MATRIXX Software.

The funding round was led by Sutter Hill Ventures. Additional new investors include Spring Lake Equity Partners and strategic partner CK Hutchison, whose 3 brand group of telecommunications operators serve over 130 million customers globally. The round also includes existing investors and strategic partners Greylock Partners, Adams Street Partners, Telstra Ventures and Swisscom Ventures.

Proposal to nationalize 5G draws immediate criticism from FCC, CTIA

National Security Council officials in the Trump administration are considering a federal role in building and operating a national 5G network, according to a report by Axios based on a leaked Powerpoint and memo. The idea is to develop a secure, nationwide 5G network at the federal level to stave off security concerns from China. The nationalized infrastructure would then be leased to mobile operators.

The report has drawn immediate criticism across the board.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: "“I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network.  The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades—including American leadership in 4G—is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment.  What government can and should do is to push spectrum into the commercial marketplace and set rules that encourage the private sector to develop and deploy next-generation infrastructure."

CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker: “The wireless industry agrees that winning the race to 5G is a national priority. The government should pursue the free market policies that enabled the U.S. wireless industry to win the race to 4G.”

Rambus' quarterly sales rise 4% yoy

Rambus reported quarterly revenue of $101.9 million, 4% higher than a year ago, with GAAP diluted net loss per share of $0.29 and non-GAAP diluted net income per share of $0.19. Total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 was $393.1 million, 17% higher than a year ago.

The company also announced changes in its accounting practice regarding the way revenue from licensing its intellectual property will be recognized.

“Rambus has transitioned to focus on two key high-growth markets - the data center and the mobile edge - with a product roadmap that leverages our core competencies and key ingredient technologies to both differentiate and accelerate our position in complementary markets,” said Dr. Ron Black, chief executive officer of Rambus.

New cables add to transatlantic subsea capacity essential to operators

by James E. Carroll

Much new and needed subsea capacity is going into Atlantic waters this year. This new capacity will be essential to Internet Content Providers, public cloud companies, and mobile operators as they push into 5G.

2018 opened with the unveiling of HAFVRUE (mermaid in Danish), a massive subsea cable project that will link New Jersey to the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark with a branch landing in County Mayo, Ireland. Optional branch extensions to Northern and Southern Norway are also included in the design.

The Mermaid cable has a theoretical design capacity of 108 Tbps, which will make it one of the high-capacity subsea cables ever built. TE Subcom has been signed as the system supplier for HAVFRUE. The construction contract is now in force and the marine survey is underway. A ready-for-service date is promised in Q4 2019 – less than 24 months away. The HAVFRUE subsea cable system will be optimized for coherent transmission and will offer a cross-sectional cable capacity of 108Tbps, scalable to higher capacities utilizing future generation SLTE technology.

What is most interesting about the Mermaid project is the diverse membership of the consortium, especially the inclusion of Facebook, Aqua Comms and Bulk Infrastructure as key members.

Perhaps it's not too surprising to see Facebook on this list, even though they must be one of biggest owners of transatlantic bandwidth at the moment. After all, Facebook, along with Microsoft, is co-owner or the newly commissioned MAREA cable system, which spans 6,600 km from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain.  The MAREA cable has a record 160 Tbps design capacity using eight fibre pairs.  However, MAREA takes a more southern route than other transatlantic cables, which mostly connect northern Europe to the New York/New Jersey region.  MAREA’s Virginia landing makes a good connection point to Facebook’s 160-acre data centre campus in Forest City, North Carolina.  Perhaps there are plans for a Facebook data centre in southern Europe, given that the company’s current European facilities are all north. The social media giant famously activated its first European data centre in in 2013 in Lulea, a city on the coast of northern Sweden, where the sub-Arctic climate and cheap hydroelectricity were seen as especially advantageous. In January 2016, Facebook selected Clonee (a suburb of Dublin), Ireland as the location for its second data centre in Europe. (Facebook’s international headquarter has been in Ireland since 2009).  One year later, in January 2017, Facebook announced its selection of Odense, Denmark as the location for its third European data centre. The company said Denmark was chosen for its robust Nordic electric grid, access to fiber, access to renewable power, and a great set of collaborative community partners. Renewal energy is expected to account for 100% of electricity needs.

Given these two new data centres in Ireland and Denmark, it makes sense that Facebook would invest in a new transatlantic cable landing in these two countries.

For Aqua Comms, which is a young, subsea cable operator based in Dublin, the new HAVFRUE cable also adds to its growing existing transatlantic portfolio. It was only two years ago, in January 2016, that Aqua Comms’ AEConnect Cable System went into operation. The AEConnect cable spans more than 5,400 km across the Atlantic between Long Island, NY and  Killala, County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland.  Its design capacity is 130 Tbps, or 130 wavelength services at 100Gbps per fibre pair. Aqua Comms’ first cable project was CeltixConnect, a 72-fibre pair subsea cable connecting Ireland and the UK that entered service in January 2012.

With this new HAVFRUE cable, Aqua Comms has been appointed system operator and landing party in the U.S., Ireland, and Denmark. The company plans market and sell capacity services and raw spectrum on its portion of the HAVFRUE cable system under the brand name America Europe Connect-2 (AEC-2).  Aqua Comms will also commission a new cable route to Denmark through the UK, developing CeltixConnect-2, which connects Dublin to Manchester, as well as the North Sea Connect cable that will link Stellium’s data centre in Newcastle, England, to Esbjerg, Denmark.
The new HAVFRUE cable not only adds capacity for Aqua Comms, it also enables the company to create a resilient, ring-based infrastructure between the East Coast of the U.S., Ireland, and Northern Europe that is especially attuned to hyperscale cloud companies needing dozens of 100G transatlantic circuits in the years ahead.

A subsea alliance for Europe to South America

In the south Atlantic, Seaborne Networks has been building a new generation of subsea cables. In September 2017, Seaborn activated its Seabras-1 direct subsea system between New York and São Paulo while bypassing the hurricane-prone areas of Florida, the Caribbean and Bermuda.. The new Seabras-1 submarine cable, which spans 10,600-km,, has multiple branching units and is designed to provide additional route diversity to Virginia Beach, Miami, St. Croix, Fortaleza, and Rio de Janeiro. Seaborne is planning a new direct subsea system between Brazil - Argentina (RFS Q4 2018); and SABR, a new subsea system between Cape Town, South Africa and Seabras-1 (RFS 2019).

Interestingly, Seaborn and Aqua Comms have just announced a strategic alliance to provide subsea connectivity between South America and Europe.  This looks to integrate Seaborn’s Seabras-1 subsea cable system now directly interconnects with Aqua Comms’ America-Europe Connect (AEConnect) subsea cable network. The two submarine cable systems will interconnect in Secaucus, New Jersey, in the location of Seaborn’s primary network operations centre.

SES preps four MEO satellites for March launch

SES confirmed that four new O3b satellites have arrived safely at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, in preparation for launch by a Soyuz vehicle in March 2018.

The new satellites, which will be placed into orbit at a distance of 8,000km, will augment SES’s fleet of 12 O3b satellites.  The new satellites were built by Thales Alenia Space and will enable SES Networks to offer more capacity, enhanced coverage, increased efficiencies and greater reliability while delivering carrier-grade services including MEF Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certified services, to telcos, mobile network operators (MNOs), enterprises, internet service providers (ISPs) and government customers.

Steve Collar, Chief Executive Officer at SES Networks, said, ““The uptake of our O3b fleet and capability has been breathtaking. From being the fastest growing operator in 2015 to our customers demanding for more O3b services today, we are now approaching peak capacity across a number of regions. As the only operational low-latency, broadband constellation in the world, we are developing our network aggressively to deliver cloud scale connectivity and solutions. Our managed end-to-end network services are comparable with terrestrial networks, empowering our customers to offer high-performance connectivity on a truly global scale.”

See also