Arris product intros aim at converged future
Arris introduced a set of products that had overlapping aims, including converging onto a single transport platform the delivery of content in multiple formats to multiple end devices, extending the reach of fiber in the hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) network while marking a clear migration path to passive optical network (PON) networking, and simultaneously managing content and the network for optimal efficiency.
Arris introduced two new products in its optical access product portfolio. The company’s CorWave optical transmitter was capable of sending signals on two wavelengths; the new CorWave II is expandable in steps to up to 16 wavelengths. Arris performed trillions of calculations to choose wavelengths that could be used together, while minimizing linear and non-linear impairments the company said were common in long-distance dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) transport.
Arris believes the costs of extending fiber directly to subscribers’ homes or businesses are now roughly equivalent to stringing coax, and getting cheaper. Arris introduced its FTT Max RFoG CPE, a device that allows operators to extend their HFC plants using fiber (RF over glass, or RFoG). This set-up could also be used for PON, Arris said, leaving a clear migration path should Gigabit Ethernet PON or 10 GigE PON become necessary to satisfy subscriber requirements.
Arris also introduced a new variation of its flagship C4 cable modem termination system (CMTS). The new scaled-down C4c, designed for smaller cable systems, is in a 7 rack unit format and is expandable from 16 to 80 downstream channels, and 12 to 60 upstream channels.
Also new is the D5 edge QAM. One trend in eQAMs is increasing density, and Arris has engineered the D5 to support up to 192 channels, expandable by going from 4 channels per F connector to 6 or 8, all with software upgrades only.
Derek Elder, Arris’ vice president of product strategy in the Broadband Communications Systems unit, said the DOCSIS 3.0 platform is still only in its earliest instantiation, and that significant improvements are coming, some this year.
New chips for level 2 and level 3 transport will improve the routing function of DOCSIS 3.0 CMTSs by bumping capacity up to 640 Gbps and beyond. As the technology develops for creating multicore processing chips with even more cores/chip, service flow should improve. Direct RF, and even higher-speed DACs, will represent a “quantum leap,” Elder said, allowing operators to synthesize their entire RF spectrum in the digital domain.
Also new from Arris is a pair of servers in what the company is calling its ConvergeMedia series. Its XMS “origin server” is aimed at central and regional installation, and so was designed, Arris said, with a high storage-to-streams ration. It is essentially an upgrade of the n5 video server the company picked up when it acquired C-Cor.
Arris is describing its MDX as a network appliance with storage, distinguished from the XMS as having a high streams-to-storage ratio, and thus more suitable for edge installation. The MDX 9200 was simultaneously announced by start-up Verivue (story here), which designed the system and will be selling it separately.
Arris said it is capable of up to 50,000 standard-definition (SD) streams, at up to 200Gbps, and can contain up to 24 TB of local storage.
Arris will pair ConvergeMedia systems with its own ConvergeMedia applications and service platforms. The on-demand management tools are essentially an evolution of the nABLE management system paired with the n5.
The MDX 9200 incorporates what Verivue (and Arris) is calling VueStor Solid-State Storage, based entirely on flash memory.
Flash is becoming an increasingly common storage medium. Last September, Edgeware introduced a video server, the Orbit 2x, similarly based on flash memory, in a more compact box the company said gives operators greater flexibility in terms of where it can be deployed within the network. Some VOD vendors, meanwhile, have been using flash in some systems for more than a year, and many other companies are turning to the technology as the price comes down and customers have become confident in its reliability.
An Arris spokesman said Arris is the only announced seller of the MDX 9200.
Verivue said its MDX 9200 availability is planned for the second quarter of 2009.