The Guts of the CFP2

August, 2014

For the next generation of 100G coherent line interface form factor CFP2, will it be a split implementation -- analog CFP2 and separate digital DSP ASIC for the card? Can both parts be integrated into the single package? As far as we know, it will be split. While today, there is one 100G on a card, etc., with CFP2, there will be at least two on a board. There is no question that it would be desirable to use the same DSP for both. However, the industry has gone back to the 1990s in which 100G customers, such as Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems, etc., each have their own DSP, and they believe that to be their secret sauce -- and that is why the DSP is coming out of separate packages. (written by: Alka Swanson)

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Optical PAM-4 Restricted to 500 Meters?

April, 2015

Our company is always inclined to look towards historical precedent for guidance, and electronics have continually been leveraged throughout the years to bail out optics, such as with its imperfections including nonlinearities, as well as with its cost in enabling greater simplification. So, our initial response would be to look in favor towards a solution like DSP-based PAM -4 for that relatively small segment of the data center market, which is gradually moving to higher data rates using single-mode fiber. Nevertheless, although these optics are being advertised to reach as long as two kilometers, it appears that technical restrictions could confine it to only a quarter of that length. The biggest advantage of using the sophisticated electronics in PAM-4 is that it allows for fewer lasers. Consequently, it facilitates the use of a less complicated optical multiplexer. PAM-4 suppliers,...

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Optical Line Interoperability Illusion

October, 2015

Although Microsoft and others have been discussing the notion of an Open Line System (OLS) to provide standardization with long-haul and metro equipment, there is little precedent for such grand notions ever coming close to being real with any technologies in the past. Naturally, large service providers are always inclined to ask for everything under the sun, including compatibility between vendors to potentially reduce their operational costs. (In responding to an RFI or RFP from the three largest incumbent carriers in the US, if a supplier does not at least say it has a plan to accommodate absolutely every request, it will immediately be eliminated from consideration.). However, despite countless successful interoperability tests that have been performed over the years, optical vendors, especially the biggest ones, at the end of the day, usually have absolutely no desire to enable...

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Acacia Communications IPO: A Compelling Story?

January, 2016

The optical industry was standing by for Acacia Communications’ S-1 for a lengthy amount of time, and there had been some recent conjecturing that it may not happen at all. The stakes were clearly high in that it appears to have been the only VC-backed 100G firm. While Acacia has made impressive penetration into the market with superior DSP technology, the question surrounds what it can do for an encore that would be good enough to attract investors in a meaningful way on Wall Street. Certainly, the process in Acacia going public was hardly done with a lot of fanfare, reflecting the current relatively low number of IPOs occurring in the technology sector in general, and the close to non-existent activity in the fiber optic space. The vendor had filed confidentially back in August (actually a common practice now for all companies with yearly revenues of less than a $1 billion). Then,...

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Acacia IPO Update: Still Pursuing Encore

May, 2016

In January, we first discussed Acacia Communications, which filed for its IPO confidentially in August of last year, and then rather quietly, but publicly, notified the SEC towards the end of December of last year of its plan to go public early this year. Although there was at least a little speculation at OFC 2016 that the vendor would not necessarily go through with the offering, it finally issued a press release announcement for the pricing this month. While Acacia has been a solid company technologically, there are still questions on what it can demonstrate to investors in order to wow them towards a higher valuation. So far, it appears that the supplier is just continuing to heavily push its Silicon Photonics (SP) development to the Street. Even assuming it has substantial leverage with this kind of integration, which we have had our doubts about in the past, the term, SP, as we...

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