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Matisse Networks Packetizes the Optical Layer with OBS

As high-bandwidth carrier metro Ethernet, E-LAN services and multimedia triple play bundles become widespread, metro aggregation networks are gravitating toward the use of optical Ethernet transport. Until recently, advanced metro optical transport was based on a combination of Ethernet switches and ROADMs (Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexers). Current limitations of these technologies, however, constrain Ethernet interfaces to 10 Gbps and ROADMs to an underlying older circuit-based design. The only way to build networks with more than 10 gigabits of bandwidth has involved expensive Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technology to create point-to-point circuits for every path across a network, which his both expensive and cumbersome.

Now, however, Matisse Networks ( offers Optical Burst Switching (OBS), which gives you both the efficiencies of Ethernet packet switching as well as the vast bandwidth of DWDM. OBS optical burst transponders communicate directly with all destinations across a metro network, thus obviating the need for optical circuits to be pre-provisioned, and expensive circuit transponders no longer need be dedicated for every communication path. This simplifies network design and allows for the construction of pure packet metro networks.

Matisse’s EtherBurst distributed layer-2 switch consists of SX-1000 Ethernet Service Nodes and PX-1000 Photonic Nodes. The PX-1000 Nodes are deployed in a metro ring, and provide fully automated optical amplification and power management of the photonic layer. The SX-1000 Nodes provide 1 Gbps Ethernet (1GbE) and 10 GbE interfaces. Each PX-1000 Photonic Node connects multiple SX-1000 Ethernet Service Nodes to the photonic layer. Indeed, up to 32 SX-1000s may be connected to a metro ring of PX-1000 Photonic Nodes, and each SX-1000 supports up to two Ethernet modules and up to two TAP modules.

Every one of the PX-1000 and SX-1000 Nodes includes an optical supervisory channel (OSC) that’s used to manage communication between the PX-1000s and SX-1000s on the ring. The OSC also can deliver efficient layer-2 multicast service delivery, something that comes in handy when supporting IPTV broadcasts.

In the study, “Total Cost of Ownership Analysis of Matisse Networks’ EtherBurst Optical Switch,” by Network Strategy Partners (, EtherBurst operations are 46 percent less expensive than those of the ROADM architecture, mostly because of savings on service contracts which are tied to EtherBurst’s lower equipment costs.

Matisse Networks has an intriguing take on optical Ethernet. Let’s see how things work out for them… IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.

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