Ikanos today announced their new Fusiv line of communications processors featuring G.vector (ITU G.993.5) extensions for DSL modems. G.vector extensions provide MIMO capabilities to existing DSL modems, and are expected to provide up to 100 Mbps (at least in lab conditions). Higher datarates (up to 300 Mbps) can be achieved with bonding. Ikanos, Broadcom and Lantiq are the 3 major semiconductor providers that have announced G.vector implementations. The announcements that were made around a year ago were primarily around the dense silicon implementations that goes into the DSLAM (i.e., at the central office / CO ). This announcement by Ikanos is the first G.vector announcement focused around the home.
Ikanos says that devices will ship in production volumes this quarter – with early design wins already cemented and production-quality silicon in the lab for several months. In a recent call with Ikanos, Matt Keowen (Senior director of Corporate Marketing at Ikanos) discusses three elements to the solution, claiming the third is unique to the Ikanos implementation. First is the line card (CO) silicon and second is the CPE silicon – these handle the MIMO noise cancellation along the path. The third item is Ikanos’s “NodeScale” implementation which includes vector compute engine that handles cross-talk cancellation among all the lines in the system, which is required for denser CO implementations with traditional twisted pair networks. He claims implementations without this technology will be limited to deployments which leverage fiber to the building / basement (FTTB) – in which you have approximately 48 ports in a deployment.
For the time being, there is no interoperability among G.vector implementations – so Ikanos DSLAM implementations will be required to pair with Ikanos CPE implementations. Telco’s looking at G.vector speeds within the next few years will need to choose a single silicon vendor – although they could select multiple hardware vendors to provide their equipment. A bigger issue is the ongoing battle for broadband connectivity between telco’s (using fiber or twisted pair) and cable companies (using primarily Coax, but some fiber in Asia). Fixed Wired broadband deployments are forecast to grow at about 2.5% worldwide from 2010 to 2016. Fiber sees the bulk of the growth, from 53M to 123M subscribers (CAGR of 15%), while Cable grows at 2% CAGR and Telco’s over DSL lose subscribers at about 0.3% CAGR. Cable’s growth comes from two factors – first of all, telco’s are the incumbent broadband providers, and Cable broadband is still the newcomer in many geographies. Second – DOCSIS 3.0, which can offer speeds up to 160 Mbps – has a head start with deployments, with some volume shipments starting in 2009.