Silicon Photonics: Widespread Usage on Active Components Doubtful

September, 2014

While the amount of industry chatter about silicon photonics rose substantially in 2014, partially because of certain market research firms looking to sell more reports, the technological hurdles, especially with insertion loss, make extensive use of active, combined components, such as for modulators and photodetectors, unlikely in the foreseeable future. Although there have definitely been numerous demonstrations of integrating with these CMOS fabrication processes, like with receivers, both the performance and cost are superior with standard methods. Certainly for passive devices, silicon lends itself quite well to integration, including for AWGs. Instead of using micro optics, combining waveguides with attenuators is being accomplished with Si. With 100G receivers, the delay lines are being integrated with the phase combiners with either silicon or Indium Phosphide. Given the...

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Knocking of Silicon Photonics Now Mainstream

April, 2015

Who would be against the idea of applying Moore’s Law at some time in the future to optical chips in that it would revolutionize the entire cost structure of transporting signals over light? Nevertheless, only a short time ago, there was hardly a peep of public criticism when it came to the obvious shortcomings of silicon photonics for active components with the exception of Finisar being unjustly punished for telling the truth, as well as fibeReality pointing out what was being said behind closed doors at the vast majority of manufacturers. Today, excluding certain individuals in academia, who are unwilling to admit to any negative attributes of Si photonics, it has presently become almost fashionable to openly state the undeniable conclusion expressed by one vendor’s recent response to us: “The only consensus on the technology is that there is no consensus.” In point of fact,...

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Mellanox’s Messaging Resonance Not Key to Success

July, 2015

Mellanox Technologies is a typical Israeli-based firm in the datacom/telecom space in that it excels at technology development, but not necessarily from a marketing/sales perspective. While the vendor has expanded internationally and has its second headquarters in the US (including several of the top CXOs), which is potentially helpful to corporate communications, it appears that much of the culture still reflects Yokneam rather than Sunnyvale. Nonetheless, although getting its fair share of appreciation for its technical strengths may at times be problematic for Mellanox, its rather consistently positive financial performance as well as its impressive installed base of customers speak volumes – and when the supplier happens to place an emphasis in its messaging in a potentially questionable way, insufficient outside attention may actually be quite beneficial. A good illustration of...

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Ciena: Fast and Loose with Its Valuable IP

May, 2017

According to our Clash of Optical Component Vendors & Technologies in Data Center Networks report published several months ago: “Ciena, [like] Nokia, highly prizes its internal technology,” [especially as it relates to critical functionality, such as digital signal processing (DSP), that substantially differentiates its optical hardware from the competition]. Of course, both vendors have been somewhat surprisingly willing to sell piece-parts, such as transponders shelves, separately as part of open line systems at the hyperscale data center operators. Yet, it appears to be a whole other matter to now for Ciena itself to be so cavalier about its recent announcement of providing its critical WaveLogic DSP technology to component manufacturers at a time when it is increasingly difficult to separate from the pack on the full system side of the house. On the one hand, Ciena wants to...

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Silicon Photonics: Last Gasp of Hype

August, 2018

The optics industry is approaching 50 years since the concept of Silicon Photonics (SiPh) was mentioned for the first time. During an upsurge in excitement over the technology in 2014, we were accused by one or more prominent engineering executives in the space about having an agenda, after we expressed our doubts. As its use went to higher capacity, there was a movement away from monolithic devices, and eventually the tendency was for a lot of vendors to get carried away by calling any new solution, SiPh. For the purposes of this discussion, we will confine the definition to those chips, which have a modulator. We truly believe that the last large marketing buildup for SiPh involves the use of co-packaged optics. It has heavily been promoted by Facebook, and ironically appears to be the most difficult technical challenge to pull off to date before we expect SiPh to kind of burn itself...

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