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Precise-ITC Debuts 400G Mapper IP

April 26, 2016

Author: Loring Wirbel

Precise-ITC of Ottawa demonstrated an FPGA-based 400Gbps mapper at the recent Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) conference. Callite-C4 maps 400GbE and 4x100GbE to OTUC4 optical-transport-network (OTN) rates. The company is shifting its intellectual-property (IP) business from single-function cores for Ethernet and OTN to complete mapper designs for 100Gbps and above. It’s already showing select customers the 800Gbps Callisto-C8 muxponder in preparation for future backbone transport rates.

The complete designs, which the company calls SoCs, are optimized for newer generations of Xilinx Virtex FPGAs. But Precise-ITC can easily translate the code to ASIC processes for OEMs that are still using ASICs in high-volume designs. Its founders believe more units now go to OEMs that serve inter-data-center applications than to traditional telecom service providers. This greater data-center volume justifies the OEM’s move to higher rates earlier than in previous OTN generations.

The company’s business plan bears some resemblance to that of former Sonet/OTN-IP specialist TPack, which was acquired first by AppliedMicro in 2010 and then by Altera in 2013. Intel has pursued OTN designs for FPGAs since acquiring Altera last year.

Precise-ITC’s biggest challenge may be differentiating its FPGA-centric IP from that of FPGA vendors. Xilinx, which acquired Omiino in 2011 for its OTN IP, came to OFC with its own suite of OTN and FlexEthernet solutions ported to the Virtex UltraScale VU190 FPGA. Altera, meanwhile, showed designs using both its Arria 10 family for OTN rates up to 400Gbps and its 14nm Stratix 10 family for OTUC4 rates and beyond. The Xilinx and Altera OTN programs indicate Precise-ITC could face difficulties in developing broader relationships with either FPGA vendor.

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