100Gbps Trans-Atlantic Link For NY, Ireland, Iceland


Emerald Express shaves milliseconds off trans-Atlantic latency, and links to Icelandic data centres

Wait years for a fibre-optic cable, and two come along at once. The United States and Europe will be soon linked by not one, but two new trans-Atlantic 100Gbps cables.

The Emerald Express – so called because it touches down in Ireland – is a £191 million submarine cable system which also has a spur to Iceland on its way from New York. It is expected to be finished by late 2012, and will join the Hibernian Express, which (obviously) goes to Scotland, starting in New York and going via Halifax in Scotland, which should be running by mid-2012.

Around the world in 62 milliseconds

Both cables are justifying their exitence by cutting precious time off the network journey between the continents, with Hibernian promising a round trip latency of 59ms, and Emerald hoping to hit 62ms . By comparison, Global Crossing’s AC-1 cable offers 65ms.

The difference may seem small, but Hibernia Atlantic believes customers will pay 50 times as much for a connection that eliminates 6ms.

Emerald Networks said its cable will be open to customers by Sprin 2013, and will carry a total of 60Tbps, in 100Gbps channels. Hibernia will start at 40Gbps channeles, and eventually light them with 100Gbps photonics.

The Emerald Express will originate in New York, run for 5,200 km and terminate at Belmullet on the West Coast of Ireland, with a branching unit to Grindavik, Iceland, and a possible branch planned for France in 2014.

 “The Emerald Express will be one of the fastest networks across the Atlantic,” said chief executive Raymond Sembler (pictured). “The last of the transatlantic cables were installed back in 2003, as a result transatlantic demand is expected to outstrip capacity by 2015. The speed of computing doubles every 18 months and Telegeography expects the demand for transatlantic capacity to increase nearly nine-fold between 2010 and 2017.”

According to the company, the route that Emerald Networks has selected will provide the largest low latency route across the Atlantic which will provide the most robust, diversified, and secure connection between the financial markets of New York and London.

“The route triangulates the Atlantic and capitalises on the proximity to New York, Iceland’s competitive location and hydro and geothermal renewable resources, and Ireland’s strategic location, accessible government and attractive tax laws. This system will ensure that the key financial markets of London and New York have never been better served,” said Ray Sembler, CEO of Emerald Networks.

Iceland is growing in popularity as a location for data centres due to its abundance of green energy, as well as its ambient temperatures, which provide free cooling to servers, both key elements in driving down the cost of running data centres.

It has been used by Verne Global for a modular data center, and by the container-based Thor data center, both of which will be relying on high bandwidth connections such as that provided by Emerald Express.

Irish prime minister, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said this  initiative was part of the “big picture” of where the country wanted to be. “This project is not delivered yet, but it has enormous potential for itself and the country as a whole,” he said. “By 2016 we want to prove that we’re the best country in the world to do business.”