800G: the hype is real, and the wait is over. No more guessing or predicting the speeds and specs that Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optical solution can deliver, it is being proven in live networks as we speak.

But WaveLogic 5 Extreme is so much more than just 800G. Because along with single-carrier 800Gb/s throughput for short reach distances, users can scale their entire optical infrastructure, achieving record-breaking capacity per wavelength for all network paths:   600Gb/s across 1,000km links, 400Gb/s across ultra-long-haul routes, and 200Gb/s across Trans-Pacific compensated cables.  At the end of the day, what does this step-level improvement in performance mean for our customers?  Less hardware to deploy and manage, less energy consumption, and reduced cost per bit. 

It has been a multi-year development journey to bring WaveLogic 5 Extreme, and the industry’s 1st 800G solution to market, and it’s now available in three different product implementations to meet all customer architecture preferences: 6500 Packet-Optical Platform, Waveserver 5 compact interconnect platform, and the WaveLogic 5 Extreme 800G transceiver module.

A look at the making of WaveLogic 5 Extreme

Taking a peek behind the curtains, the journey started many years ago with initial targets and aspirational goals, then proceeded with math calculations, propagation analysis, and DSP algorithm development. Over time, a series of test chips for both the ASIC and the high-speed electro-optic components were used to verify the theoretical calculations, finally leading to the integration and verification of the production components and complete product.    

The WaveLogic 5 Extreme chip itself is a tiny, but powerful, 12mm x 16mm device. Here are some of its remarkable features not to be overlooked:

  • It is the industry’s first commercial 7nm CMOS device for optical networks.
  • Based on 7nm FinFET technology, it includes 3km of wiring and contains 800 Trillion operations per second, which is about as much horsepower as 400,000 laptops!
  • Some of the capabilities that are packed into the ASIC include nonlinear probabilistic constellation shaping, throughput-optimized forward error correction, frequency division multiplexing, and encryption.

A view of what's inside and what comes out of the WaveLogic 5 Extreme chip

Now imagine – if ANY mistake is made in the design or the fabrication for this very complex part – you need to go back to the drawing board of taping out and manufacturing another ASIC, a process that takes months to complete. So it is incredibly rewarding when the final product works not just as expected, but even better and not only in the lab, but in live customer networks. And it is incredibly humbling to work alongside a coherent modem development team that has such a consistent history and reputation for “works first time” achievements, especially with such complex technology.

It is incredibly humbling to work alongside a coherent modem development team that has such a consistent history and reputation for “works first time” achievements, especially with such complex technology.

Which networks need 800G?

800 billion bits per second is a lot of capacity – enough to transport twenty-two 90min HD movies or the latest release of Call of Duty in one second. What type of networks need that capacity? As seen by the recent “world first” achievement announcements, the answer is …many! The recent announcements detailed below highlight how WaveLogic 5 Extreme provides key benefits in many different networking applications. Let’s take a look.

MSO Networks

Using WaveLogic 5 Extreme and flexible grid technologies, Comcast recently conducted the world’s first long-distance 600Gb/s single wavelength pilot deployment, which carried live commercial traffic across more than 800km between Newark, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the presence of many other channels in the network. This significant industry milestone demonstrates Comcast’s commitment to delivering the highest capacity and fastest speeds to provide the best possible user experience for its customers.

With WaveLogic 5 Extreme, Comcast is also ready for next-gen 400GbE connectivity speeds as WaveLogic 5 Extreme provides universal 400GbE transport across any location in the Comcast National Backbone network without regeneration. To test the full capabilities of the technology, Comcast also looped back the 600G signal and verified successful operation across 1,600-kilometers, easily more than ten times the distance achievable of emerging 600G technologies in the market today.

Comcast also looped back the 600G signal and verified successful operation across 1,600-kilometers, easily more than ten times the distance achievable of other 600G technologies in the market today.

R&E Networks

Internet2 and Ciena used WaveLogic 5 Extreme to turn up the industry’s longest-distance single carrier 400G wavelength across a 2,100km span between Chicago and Denver. This is quadruple the capacity of what was previously possible at that distance – and it only requires a single set of electro-optics for four times the throughput.  This means the capacity of Internet2’s core network can accommodate massive data flows used by computational science researchers in disciplines as vast as astronomy and as minute as sub-atomic particle physics. It expands the ability to deliver diverse services to regional education networks and their education institution members.  In addition to the high-speed connectivity benefits, the new technology also reduces the overall space and power consumption of Internet2’s current optical add/drop locations by as much as two-thirds.

This is quadruple the capacity of what was previously possible at that distance – and it only requires a single set of electro-optics for four times the throughput.

Submarine Networks

Southern Cross connected two of its data centers on the U.S. West Coast with the world’s first single wavelength 800G channel using WaveLogic 5 Extreme. You may be wondering, “What? 800G and subsea?” Submarine networks are comprised of both terrestrial and subsea links. WaveLogic 5 Extreme will double the capacity per wavelength across all links in the network and multiple rates – 400G, 500G, 600G, and yes, 800G – will be used in the terrestrial network to optimize capacity across any distance.

The most important benefit of WaveLogic 5 Extreme for submarine networks is the ability to maximize return on investment of installed, submerged submarine cables. WaveLogic 5 Extreme allows Southern Cross to upgrade capacity of the network by more than 80 times the original design potential, utilizing the same infrastructure that was originally designed to transport 2.5Gbps wavelengths.

WaveLogic 5 Extreme allows Southern Cross to upgrade capacity of the network by more than 80 times the original design potential, utilizing the same infrastructure that was originally designed to transport 2.5Gbps wavelengths.

Service Provider Networks

Using WaveLogic 5 Extreme, Verizon completed an 800G trial in their live network carrying router traffic, demonstrating multi-vendor equipment interoperability and the capability to quadruple the typical capacity carried on a wavelength. As stated by Kevin N. Smith, Vice President of Technology and Planning for Verizon. “… we are advancing our connecting layer of fiber to prepare for the explosion of data we know will come along with 5G’s transformational impact on industries and consumers. And being the only provider in the industry with that capacity on a single wavelength allows us to deliver the service at a much lower cost per bit.”

Using WaveLogic 5 Extreme, Verizon completed an 800G trial in their live network carrying router traffic, demonstrating multi-vendor equipment interoperability and the capability to quadruple the typical capacity carried on a wavelength.

We at Ciena are excited to kick off the 800G era in optical networking and see how our customers – and their end users – will use these new capabilities. What applications will they think of next? You never know, but we’re happy to help provide the infrastructure to make them possible.

Want to learn more about how advanced DSP and high baud operation in WaveLogic 5 Extreme enable new levels of efficiency in the network? Curious about the networking implications of high baud coherent solutions? Check out our new WaveLogic 5 Extreme “The Efficiency Story” video below.