NTT Links Urban & Suburban Data Centers in US & UK with Low-Latency Network

During Upgrade 2024, NTT DATA and NTT Corporation (NTT) unveiled the successful trial of All-Photonics Network (APN)-driven hyper low-latency connections between data centers in the United States and United Kingdom. In the U.K., NTT DATA and NTT linked data centers north and east of London via NTT’s Innovative Optical Wireless Network (IOWN) APN, achieving communication with a round-trip delay of under 1 millisecond. Similarly, data centers in Northern Virginia, USA, attained comparable results. The overarching aim of this endeavor is to revolutionize geographically dispersed IT infrastructure into the operational equivalent of a unified data center.

The data center industry faces significant local limitations, including carbon dioxide emission regulations and land scarcity, which hinder the construction of data centers in urban areas, necessitating a shift to suburban locales. However, with data centers located far apart geographically, communication delay, or latency, can become prohibitively high, posing challenges in meeting customers’ requirements for low latency. In separate demonstrations, NTT DATA and NTT established connections between data centers in the U.K. (HH2 in Hemel Hempstead and LON1 in Dagenham) and in the U.S. (VA1 and VA3 in Ashburn) using APN equipment from NEC. These U.K. and U.S. data centers are 89km and 4km apart, respectively. Measurements conducted over 100 Gbps and 400 Gbps links demonstrated that the two APN-connected data centers in the U.K. operated with less than 1 millisecond (approximately 0.9 milliseconds) of latency, and with a delay variation (jitter) of less than 0.1 microseconds. By comparison, conventional networks with general Layer 2 switches experience delay variation ranging from several microseconds to tens of microseconds. In essence, the APN slashes latency by half and reduces jitter by orders of magnitude.

The APN delivers the exceptionally low latency demanded by current and emerging applications, including distributed, real-time AI analysis such as industrial IoT and predictive maintenance, smart surveillance systems, smart grid and energy management, as well as natural disaster detection and response. NTT DATA is also conducting demonstrations in the financial sector, where low latency is critical for remittances, settlements, and transactions. Another advantage of the IOWN APN is its ability to activate lines simply by adding wavelengths, eliminating the need to install new dark fiber. Consequently, data center operators can promptly address customer demand.

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