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On March 6, 2018, Nokia announced the upcoming availability of the PSE-3, its fourth-generation photonic service engine. The PSE-3 is a programmable coherent DSP which is capable of processing wavelengths from 100G to 600G. Nokia is pushing its capacity by distance product further by implementing its probabilistic constellation shaping (PCS) algorithm in silicon.

PCS enables the extra performance ICPs are after

The PSE-3 will come to market in two major variants: The form factor optimized PSE-3c and the high-performance optimized, PCS-enabled PSE-3s. The PCS algorithm optimally shapes transmitted symbols within the circular fiber medium, enabling greater reach performance for a given bit rate. The PSE-3s will begin trials in 2H18, with a production ramp beginning in 1Q19. PSE-3s is also programmable; for a given reach requirement, the maximum transmission rate can be utilized.

The internet content provider (ICP) community is the early target market for the PSE-3s. Facebook began testing PCS technology on the AEConnect transatlantic fiber, as noted in a March 21, 2017 press release. The first product to feature PSE-3s will be Nokia's 1830 PSI-M. The PSI-M is a modular 1RU purpose-built data center interconnect product, which signals that the ICP community has the greatest early interest in PSE-3s and PSI-M. The ICP community's backbone and submarine assets are typically in fiber-constrained environments. ICPs' fiber scarcity acts to motivate maximizing spectral efficiency on longer routes to meet their bandwidth needs.

The coherent chipsets are one of the key competitive differentiators in the high-end optical transmission segment. Development efforts are not "one and done" events but a continuous exertion over long timescales. A vendor's R&D cadence is the ultimate differentiator. Nokia drove 200G to significant volumes. Its Bell Labs R&D team has the pedigree to pull off the next step in optical performance.


Further reading

Global Data Center Interconnect & Purpose-Built DCI Forecast: 2017–22, SPT002-000047 (February 2018)

Market Share Spreadsheet: 3Q17 Data Center Interconnect (DCI), SPT002-000026 (December 2017)

Optical Networks Forecast Spreadsheet: 2017–22, TE0006-001450 (October 2017)

Market Share Spreadsheet: 3Q16 ON Global, TE0006-001307 (December 2016)

"Nokia launches world's first multiterabit network processor," TE0006-001408 (June 2017)


Ian Redpath, Practice Leader, Components, Transport and Routing

[email protected]

Don Frey, Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing

[email protected]