Category Archives: Communication industry

Updates from Ciena

Virtualizing the World of Cable
By Wayne Hickey – When cable operators saw huge demands in linear video, Video-on-Demand (VoD) and high-speed data services, and faced with an aging analog infrastructure, they moved to a Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) to increase capacity and throughput. CCAP combines headend functions into a single architecture by combing Edge Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (EQAM) and Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS).

Back in June 2011, CableLabs created CCAP by blending two competing platforms, a Comcast-backed Converged Multiservice Access Platform (CMAP) and a Time Warner Cable Converged Edge Services Access Router (CESAR) platform. The following year CCAP products were introduced, and deployed the year after.

Fast forward to today, cable operators are looking to implement software-based access platforms, migrate away from commonly deployed centralized, purpose-built CCAP equipment, and virtualize CCAP (vCCAP) — and thus begin the shift to a Distributed Access Architecture (DAA). Developed by CableLabs, vCCAP is the latest cable technologies that combines functions including the CMTS and EQAM.

Virtualizing and distributing MAC and PHY functions enables digital combining, eliminates analog optics with cost effective 10G Ethernet transport, and converts analog fiber nodes to digital optic IP-enabled devices. DAA makes it easier to push fiber deeper into the edge of the network, and along with the ability to support denser wavelengths for each fiber, digital optics greatly improves Carrier-to-Noise-Ratio (CNR), which will enable higher orders of QAM on the coax and higher performance DOCSIS technologies. more> https://goo.gl/EoPwPL

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Embedded FPGAs Offer SoC Flexibility

By Dave Lammers – It was back in 1985 that Ross Freeman invented the FPGA, gaining a fundamental patent (#4,870,302) that promised engineers the ability to use “open gates” that could be “programmed to add new functionality, adapt to changing standards or specifications, and make last-minute design changes.”

Freeman, a co-founder of Xilinx, died in 1989, too soon to see the emerging development of embedded field programmable logic arrays (eFPGAs). The IP cores offer system-on-chip (SoC) designers an ability to create hardware accelerators and to support changing algorithms. Proponents claim the approach provides advantages to artificial intelligence (AI) processors, automotive ICs, and the SoCs used in data centers, software-defined networks, 5G wireless, encryption, and other emerging applications.

With mask costs escalating rapidly, eFPGAs offer a way to customize SoCs without spinning new silicon. While eFPGAs cannot compete with custom silicon in terms of die area, the flexibility, speed, and power consumption are proving attractive.

Achronix Semiconductor (Santa Clara, Calif.) has branched out from its early base in stand-alone FPGAs, using Intel’s 22nm process, to an IP model. It is emphasizing its embeddable Speedcore eFPGAs that can be added to SoCs using TSMC’s 16FF foundry process. 7nm IP cores are under development.

Efinix Inc. (Santa Clara recently rolled out its Efinix Programmable Accelerator (EPA) technology.

Efinix (efinixinc.com) claims that its programmable arrays can either compete with established stand-alone FPGAs on performance, but at half the power, or can be added as IP cores to SoCs. The Efinix Programmable Accelerator technology can provide a look up table (LUT)-based logic cell or a routing switch, among other functions, the company said. more> https://goo.gl/nXqYvV

Updates from GE

From Light To Bright: San Diego Is Building The World’s Largest Municipal Internet Of Things
By Bruce Watson -San Diego’s newest streetlights might not look all that special — and that’s exactly the point. Designed to blend in with the rest of the city’s outdoor lighting, they’re easy to overlook. Under the surface, though, the LED fixtures are actually data-gathering machines. They will allow San Diego to build the largest municipal internet-of-things network in the world.

San Diego’s digital lighting revolution started as a modest solution to a common problem. “We were broke,” David Graham, San Diego’s deputy chief operating officer, told GE Reports in February. “In the early 2000s, we went through about a decade of fiscal crisis, and we were trying to find ways to be more efficient, save money and reduce energy usage.”

One idea to save money was to replace the yellow glow of the city’s old sodium vapor streetlamps with efficient new LED lights. In addition to providing cleaner, broader-spectrum light, the new fixtures used 60 percent less energy and slashed maintenance needs because of their longer life spans. The city replaced more than 35,000 lights, yielding an estimated $2.2 million in savings per year.

But the new fixtures also brought to light new problems. “We know when a traditional light bulb isn’t working, because it burns out,” says Austin Ashe, general manager of Current, powered by GE’s Intelligent Cities program. “But an LED doesn’t burn out. It just degrades over time.” more> https://goo.gl/6fdyFY

The Coming Software Apocalypse

By James Somers – “When we had electromechanical systems, we used to be able to test them exhaustively,” says Nancy Leveson, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been studying software safety for 35 years. She became known for her report on the Therac-25, a radiation-therapy machine that killed six patients because of a software error. “We used to be able to think through all the things it could do, all the states it could get into.

Software is different. Just by editing the text in a file somewhere, the same hunk of silicon can become an autopilot or an inventory-control system. This flexibility is software’s miracle, and its curse. Because it can be changed cheaply, software is constantly changed; and because it’s unmoored from anything physical—a program that is a thousand times more complex than another takes up the same actual space—it tends to grow without bound. “The problem,” Leveson wrote in a book, “is that we are attempting to build systems that are beyond our ability to intellectually manage.” more> https://goo.gl/XSu4jU

Updates from Siemens

Declarative Configuration when Change is Constant
By Dave McLeish – Change is a double-edged sword. To set the scene let’s first focus on recent change for the good as relates to our own domain of product lifecycle management (PLM). In the past few years, increased mobility with smart phones and tablets has provided new opportunities for mobile access to PLM. Adoption of familiar user interface (UI) patterns from everyday life (shopping cart, smart search) and enhanced possibilities for user experience through touch and virtual assistants have enabled more of the “extended enterprise” to embrace PLM. From the shop floor where there’s touch screen access to work instructions to executives empowered to simply search, sign off and interact with dashboards on their device of choice, increasingly the whole enterprise can contribute to and view the digital thread from product development to delivery.

At the heart of this change for the good is the rich web-based access to PLM that has been made possible by html5. Rich capabilities that have meant we can begin to reimagine how we collaborate and deliver products from inception, through realization and utilization. Zero-install rich, browser-based solutions remove the need for desktop install and reduce the IT deployment overhead through firewall friendly standard https requirements.

But developing in the browser has its challenges when targeting rich capabilities over high latency WAN and with limited memory resources. Arguably the greatest challenge is managing change. Whilst the emergence of HTML5 and CSS3 among other standards have provided a reliable basis for developing web solutions, the same cannot be said for much of the web development space. more> https://goo.gl/NjgcsC

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Updates from Ciena

Optic Zoo Networks Keeps Vancouver’s Data Traveling at Blistering Speeds with Ciena

By Tony Ross – Optic Zoo Networks is a recognized brand throughout metro Vancouver due to our extensive carrier grade dark fiber network and infrastructure. Based on demand and to further accelerate our growth and better serve Tier 1 service providers, we knew it was time to take our offerings to the next level.

Our customers need to support bandwidth-hogging applications like virtual and augmented reality, as well as Internet of Things (IoT). However, in order for data to continue to flow with ease, we needed to ensure that Optic Zoo Networks was ready to support that growth. That meant offering new Carrier Ethernet Services (CES), and in turn, required that we build a Carrier Ethernet Network (CEN).

To continue to support top-echelon service providers, however, we needed to build a CEN that could scale instantaneously and meet the needs of organizations in a range of industries – from finance, healthcare, education, and more.

For example, customers that previously wanted to upgrade to higher levels of bandwidth had to go through inefficient processes, such as having to order a network loop that could take weeks. With our CEN, today’s 1G customers can easily upgrade to 10G tomorrow with a simple software upgrade. more> https://goo.gl/fh54t3

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Updates from Georgia Tech

Driving Cassini: Doctoral Student Controls Spacecraft in Mission’s Final Days

By Jason Maderer – When the Cassini spacecraft plunges into Saturn on September 15 to end a nearly two-decade mission, Georgia Tech student Michael Staab will have a front row seat. It’s almost literally the driver’s seat.

Staab is working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California while pursuing his aerospace engineering doctoral degree in the distance learning program. He’s a Cassini Spacecraft Flight Controller, which means he’s one of only three people authorized to tell the machine what to do and where to go as it orbits Saturn.

The job is almost finished. Just before 8 a.m. (Atlanta time) on Friday, Staab will hear Cassini’s signal for the final time before it dives into the planet’s atmosphere, becoming a part of Saturn.

Prior to attending Georgia Tech, I was a flight test engineering intern at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California and, later, a test requirements and analysis engineer for Boeing in St. Louis. I had a lot of control room and operations experience, which is exactly what JPL was looking for.

The duty of a flight controller at JPL is fairly straight-forward; we possess absolute command and control authority of the spacecraft when tracking it through the Deep-Space Network. more> https://goo.gl/aAU76G

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Updates from Ciena

#Ciena25: The Story Behind the Founding of Ciena

By Bruce Watson – The company that would eventually become Ciena began its life as an inspiration inside the head of David Huber.  The former General Instruments engineer had an idea for how to help cable companies squeeze more television channels through their lines to end consumers.  In 1992, he set out to turn those ideas into a reality, and on November 8, 1992, the paperwork was officially filed in Delaware for the new company.

Huber immediately began searching for venture capital funding.  In late 1993, Huber was introduced to Pat Nettles, a veteran leader of several telecom companies.  By early 1994, Nettles was brought on-board to run the business side of things and was soon the company’s first CEO (though owning a doctorate in particle physics, Nettles was no stranger to the technology side of things himself).

Nettles quickly convinced Huber that it was the long-distance phone companies, not the cable TV industry, that would be the best target for Huber’s invention.

The introduction between the two was orchestrated by Jon Bayless, a venture capitalist who’s firm Sevin Rosen Funds provided $3 million in start-up funding for the business in February 1994. more> https://goo.gl/ZdVzLE

Why digital work hubs are the key to citywide collaboration

By Leif Hartwig – As smart city initiatives pop up around the world, technologists and local governments are looking at ways in which they can help improve the quality of life of their citizens.

Achieving the “smart city vision,” however, is no easy task. With the implementation of each new process or technology, officials must ensure that communication is in sync with internal and external stakeholders to truly benefit on the road to getting “smarter.”

Like today’s modern enterprises, cities need to adapt to technological changes and create new and more efficient methods for getting work done. Even more so, city workers need to be able to communicate with each other, including contractors and private company representatives who are all involved in key projects.

When considering digital work hubs, officials/knowledge workers should keep in mind easy-to-use tech platforms that eliminate the need to have a number of different tools such as email, messaging, video conferencing and data sharing apps being used to collaborate and share. The combination of these tools and the transition of people on projects creates a huge challenge when it comes to searching for any information related to a project or group. more> https://goo.gl/vAvBRG

Cyberwar: A guide to the frightening future of online conflict

By Steve Ranger – At its core, cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks by one country or nation to disrupt the computer systems of another with the aim of create significant damage, death or destruction.

Governments and intelligence agencies worry that digital attacks against vital infrastructure — like banking systems or power grids — will give attackers a way of bypassing a country’s traditional defenses.

And unlike standard military attacks, a cyberattack can be launched instantaneously from any distance, with little obvious evidence in the build-up, and it is often extremely hard to trace such an attack back to its originators. Modern economies, underpinned by computer networks that run everything from sanitation to food distribution and communications, are particularly vulnerable to such attacks, especially as these systems are in the main poorly designed and protected.

Attacks by individual hackers, or even groups of hackers, would not usually be considered to be cyberwarfare, unless they were being aided and directed by a state. more> https://goo.gl/U3S5Ds