Compass-EOS' optical core router lights a path to SDNs

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Compass-EOS, a six-year-old company that just emerged from stealth mode, launched what it claims is the first core-grade router family to use a chip-to-chip direct silicon-to-photonics implementation that alters the way routers are built.

Compass-EOS r10004

Compass-EOS' initial offering is the r10004 modular router.

Compass-EOS' initial offering is the r10004 modular router, which include icPhotonics, the company's technology that integrates optical and electronic components onto a single microchip.

The traditional way of building routers involves the use of line cards, a multi-layer midplane and switching fabric that connect the line cards to each other. "About a third of the components of a system like that are dedicated just for the inter-line card connectivity," Asaf Somekh, vice president of marketing, told FierceBroadbandWireless.

Compass-EOS' technology uses lasers and photodiodes that allow silicon chips to transmit and receive data directly between neighboring silicon chips. Therefore, the company can do away with the switching fabric altogether, instead deploying icPhotonics on each line card along with passive optical mesh for lower costs, lower power consumption and a smaller footprint, said Somekh.

"That allows us to take routers into a completely new ball game in terms of how they are built, how they are connected to get more capacity and how they function," he said.

The company claims each r10004 can serve as a modular router building block for the deployment of scale-out routing, enabling software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV).

"Our engineers knew that control of the router would have to be done externally, so we separate completely the data plane from the control plane. That allows for support of an architecture that uses SDN in the network," said Somekh.

"Traditional vendors are dragging their feet when it comes to using SDN in the core," he added.

Compass-EOS has a production-level solution that is already running live traffic at several service providers using its routers, said Somekh. None of those companies appears to be a wireless operator, though Somekh made a point of describing how important it is to reduce wireless network operating costs as data traffic skyrockets.

Compass-EOS described one customer as a "U.S.-based media and technology company that has deployed the r10004 for high-bandwidth connectivity between data centers of a global content delivery network (CDN)."

It is notable that cable provider Comcast is one of Compass-EOS' investors. Other strategic investors include T-Ventures and Cisco Systems, the latter also being a rival that Compass-EOS will compete against.

According to a recent report from Dell'Oro, Cisco and Juniper dominate the core service provider routing market, holding nearly 88 percent of the combined market share through the first quarters of 2012. Taking the third spot was Huawei with just under 10 percent.

Venture capital firms Pitango Venture Capital, Benchmark Capital, Northbridge Venture Partners and Crescent Point have also made investments in Compass-EOS. Compass-EOS, which has 150 employees, has so far raised $120 million. The company is based in Milpitas, Calif., and Netanya, Israel.

For more:
- see this Compass-EOS release
- see this Blouin News article
- see this Computerworld article
- see this Wall Street Journal article
- see this GigaOM article

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