Telecom crowd keeps rolling out goods

Telecom crowd keeps rolling out goods


The economic downturn hasn't slowed the pace of new communications product introductions.

'The slowdown to us looks like a positive event,' said Shantanu Gupta, manager of Intel Corp.'s telecommunications server platform business unit, at last month's SuperComm trade show in Atlanta.

Intel showed off a prototype of its recently announced carrier-grade servers, available late this year. And Hewlett-Packard Co. was trumpeting a so-called blades server, made up of computers on cards, or blades, that snap into a chassis.

The new servers will support applications that are expected to keep bandwidth demands growing in both wired and wireless environments, said Mark W. Butler, business operations manager for HP's telecom systems operation.

'The two big markets right now are wireless and broadband,' Butler said. 'They are not going away because they are too far along.'

Even though the economy is soft, 'there still is a demand for bandwidth,' said Alan Lewis, director of business development for Hitachi Telecom Inc. of Norcross, Ga.

Hitachi demonstrated a dense-wavelength-division-multiplexing (DWDM) system that would carry 128 10-Gbps channels for distances of up to 8,000 kilometers over existing fiber cabling without regeneration.

Intel's new servers will be the company's first foray into the telecom market, which has been dominated by RISC processors running Unix operating systems. Intel expects the flexibility and high clock rate of its complex-instruction-set-computing processors to make them attractive for wireless gateways, virtual private networks, and general services such as routing and billing.

The company also expects its open-standard servers to drive prices down in the telecom market, as it has done in the enterprise server market.

Intel's first model, a 2U (3.5-inch) rack-mounted dual 32-bit Pentium III unit, will be available late this year. A 1U model will be ready early next year, and a third based on the 64-bit Itanium processor will arrive in late 2002. All will be certified under the Network Equipment Building Specification developed by Telcordia Technologies Inc. of Morristown, N.J., for telecom networks. The servers will run Linux and Microsoft Windows NT operating systems.

HP's blades, or cards, can snap into a server chassis to provide additional computing capacity. Butler said the company is working on a blades ecosystem, or one that accepts third-party blades, based on the CompactPCI bus. The high-performance bus permits hot-swapping of cards.

'We're going after serviceability, low cost and high density,' Butler said. Plugging a blade into a chassis rather than installing a new server box will avoid duplication of power supplies, fans and other items.

'It lets you fit more into the space and requires less sophisticated management,' Butler said.

Hitachi's Advanced Multiservice Network 6100 system boosts bandwidth over existing fiber infrastructure by breaking light into 128 wavelengths, each capable of carrying 10 Gbps. Lewis said it is a generation ahead of current demand. He said 64-channel DWDM will be in wide use by next year.

Hitachi's Gain Tilt Compensator technology corrects distortions to let signals travel up to 1,040 kilometers. An optical signal expander module can carry the signal out to 8,000 km. Lewis said such technologies are less expensive than conventional signal regeneration, which must happen on each channel every 400 km.

Speedy turnarounds

ISPSoft Inc. of Shrewsbury, N.J., demonstrated the Universal Provisioning Exchange, which automates provisioning of carrier services, said executive vice president of sales and marketing Anand Desai.

The UPX software platform handles everything from order entry to billing via agents that follow a policy-based workflow. The aim is to reduce total turnaround time from weeks or months to hours.


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