Agere Systems announced the industry's lowest-voltage, highest-bandwidth lithium niobate modulator for use in 40-Gb/s optical networking systems. With this component, systems makers can more economically design a system that delivers error-free, highly accurate performance. The device requires only a +/- 2.5 volt drive (referenced at 1 gigahertz) and has a guaranteed minimum bandwidth of 30 gigahertz. Called the 2625C, the device converts steady, or continuous wave (CW), laser output into high-speed light pulses that transmit voice, data and video signals over fiber optic cables. Modulators are placed externally to the CW laser source in an optical networking system. Agere's modulator represents a major performance improvement in 40 Gbit/s technology. Drive voltage is one of the most critical parameters in high-speed modulator performance, and is required to switch the device from "full on" to maximum attenuation, or "off." The combination of high speeds and peak-to-peak voltage swings typically makes it difficult for external drive electronics to effectively manage signal transmissions at low voltages. With Agere's solution, systems manufacturers can reduce the voltage requirement for modulator drivers while extracting the maximum bandwidth from the modulator. Unlike other low-voltage offerings that operate with bandwidths of less than 30 Ghz, Agere's modulator ensures better eye patterns and lower bit-rate errors, contributing to a more robust system design, the company said. The modulator uses a "push-pull" configuration that permits chirp tunability, allowing systems manufacturers to optimize the device to their unique system requirements. Agere's expertise in lithium niobate technology -- which ensures fast switching speeds and stable performance -- will allow the company to manufacture the modulators in high volume. The new 40 Gb/s modulator is suitable for dense wavelength division multiplexed systems used in high-speed or short-range digital networks operating up to SONET OC-768 and SDH STM-256 rates. Agere is currently sampling the 2625C, and expects to deliver production quantities by the fourth calendar quarter of 2001. Unit pricing will be less than $10,000 in volume quantities.