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Microsoft’s Network: Hitches with Quasi-Carrier Mindset

August, 2015

Microsoft has been caught in the undesirable middle with its Data Center (DC) infrastructure between striving to innovate with the lowest cost, state-of-the-art optical solutions as a huge enterprise player, and reconciling it with a historical propensity to use standard service provider equipment, which often has proprietary aspects that make it a more expensive proposition. The proclivity toward the latter seems to have also resulted in more of a carrier mentality in terms of a “pay-as-you-go” type of situation, constantly responding to bandwidth growth spurts throughout its global network, but there are apparently no signs of an effort to do a full redesign of its intra- and inter-data center build-out to really get out in front of accommodating the rising needs for data transmission. While such a move would be quite costly, it also adds up to an exorbitant amount with its evident str ...

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Avago’s Spinoff of Optics in Short Term?

August, 2015

While for now, Avago Technologies will be preoccupied with the immense and time-consuming effort of its integration process with Broadcom, not too long afterwards, it would not be surprising if there would be a spin-off that would include a large number of the combined company’s optical networking assets. The progressive shift from a technology-focused firm to one that is more business-oriented should inevitably go beyond just making further sizable acquisitions, but to improve the balance sheet through aggressive divestment. Although KKR does not hold a stake in Avago anymore, we believe the supplier has been heavily influenced by the private equity firm’s modus operandi – purchase assets, find value, package parts, and sell off. One may easily presume that calling the merger, “Broadcom” instead of “Avago” probably has significance for its future technology direction. Within our industr ...

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AIM Photonics Will Miss Target (Part I)

April, 2016

At “The Workshop on Integrated Photonics High Volume Packaging” that took place in Anaheim the week of OFC 2016, Thomas L. Koch, the Dean at the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona gave a refreshingly realistic presentation of the historic challenges involved with packaging chips, as well as a recitation of some limited successes, which have comprised both electronics and optics. Regrettably, his formal presentation ended rather abruptly, almost with a thud in that it was more than implied that the only hopeful solution provided would be the future work of the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics). When Koch was asked if he could name a successful Public-Private Partnership (PPP), he mentioned SEMATECH (Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology), which could hardly be considered a triumph during the ten years in the ‘80s and ‘90s, whe ...

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Finisar: New VCSEL Opportunities Possible

August, 2018

In June, this writer was honored to be a keynote speaker at EPIC’s meeting on “Singlemode vs Multimode Communication” in Kessel-Lo, Belgium. Our preliminary judgement is that we are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for Multimode Fiber (MMF) deployment growth within hyperscale data center operators. It is significantly based on the assumption that in striving to lessen latency and lower power dissipation, Microsoft’s plan to flatten its network by ultimately replacing the top-of-rack switch with a passive patch panel, and use MMF to connect the end/middle-of-row switch to a rack of wheel with servers, is adopted by all of the major hyperscale players. Obviously, such a transition would be good news to the two major, short-reach VCSEL transceiver vendors, Finisar and Foxconn Technology Group. However, given the delays that have become recently evident at the former in ramping up i ...

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Inphi’s COLORZ: New Buyer Constrictions

September, 2018

Although Microsoft’s major push to try to create a market for Inphi’s COLORZ solution was memorable, it was unsuccessful, as the former has remained the only customer so far. In fibeReality’s opinion, the lack of traction by the module is more than Microsoft’s unique optical networking proclivity, and so, although we are inclined to believe it will likely be a buyer of the 400G version as well, the technological limitations of the product, in general, have resulted in significantly less purchasing than would have been expected by the champion/development partner. Clearly, Inphi has wanted to give the impression for a while that there would be at least one other major purchaser of the device, and we thought that Amazon, given its positioning of data centers, most resembled Microsoft, and thus, would be in the running. The problem is that there may be a good reason why Amazon has not been ...

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