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25G Laser Shortage

August, 2014

We have been told that there is going to be a worldwide shortage of 25G lasers in the coming two years, supposedly due to not enough capacity having been planned by the industry as a whole.  We hadn’t heard anything like this before.  Do you guys know if this is true, and if so, why it happened?

A couple of our contacts indicate that supply is down because of unexpected demand by a few data center operators as well as a greater need for customized optics, and that 25G lasers have inherently lower manufacturing yields than is the case, say with 10G devices. Specifically, the 25G DMLs are in short supply, not the EML devices. However, the EMLs are very expensive, especially for short-distance applications.

There is also apprehension that expanding production will create a long-term overcapacity situation, once the market gets back to normal levels. In the meantime, it has become a waiting game for all of the buyers of 25G lasers, as they are all in the same boat.

Certainly, supply constraints are being created by the use of 25G lasers for 4x25G designs for 100G systems. Moreover, there is a major push by a consortium of prominent companies for a data center 25GbE specification.

However, we are presently inclined to believe our other sources who say it depends on the supplier. While certain vendors are grappling with this problem, others are not -- so, in general, the unavailability of 25G lasers is probably not a major issue.

(written by: Alka Swanson and Mark Lutkowitz)

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