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Intel Behind $200M Photonics Competition?

October, 2014

The US government did not call it a “silicon photonics contest.” Perhaps the federal funding for this new Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) would permit Intel and others to gradually shift to more of a generic term for its future development of chips that includes optics, but would not necessarily involve silicon. Actually, in a recent announcement, IBM implied that its new $3 billion, five-year plan for chip development, might not comprise Si photonics. IMI is quite reminiscent of SEMATECH (SEmiconductor MAnufacturing TECHnology), incorporated in 1987, which became a not-for-profit consortium that included the US Department of Defense (DOD) as well as semiconductor suppliers and educational institutions. Its main purpose was to grab back leadership on market share with chips, which was taken away by Japanese companies. There seemed little doubt that early on, Intel was runnin ...

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OpSIS’ Demise: Politically Incorrect Si Photonic Wafers

October, 2014

This past July, OpSIS announced that the program funding its core operations for silicon photonic Multi-Project Wafers (MPWs) had ended and that it would cease operations. Evidently, the US government around that time was uninterested in supporting the continued existence of the foundry, which had been receiving all of its capital from the private sector. Only about a few months later, the Administration along with the Department of Defense (DOD) apparently changed its mind on the importance of such MPWs, as the White House came out with its $200 million initiative – in effect, making OpSIS a loser before the Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute (IPMI) was even established. A fundamental problem with public-private partnerships is that it not only puts the government in the position of picking the winners of technological solutions, but the actual players involved in the game. Wh ...

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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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AIM Photonics Will Miss Target (Part II) -- Limited Job Creation

April, 2016

As we continue our critical look on the prospects of AIM Photonics, we will maintain our focus on the hurdles faced by this new organization. Secondly, fibeReality will get into greater detail on what is sometimes falsely cited as an example of a successful Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the chip space, Sematech, as well as provide assessments of other consortiums. Lastly, we will discuss the reasons why AIM will not fulfill its promise of creating many new jobs. As a general rule, federal government spending in private industry should be confined to only a limited number of cases, such as in its biggest role, in defending the country. Secondly, as we have pointed out in the past, there are situations in which it is the nation’s interest in remaining competitive with the rest of the world, including in potentially providing fiber to everyone’s home, which the private sector cannot t ...

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Infinera’s Biggest Concern is Ciena

October, 2016

A commonly heard phrase over the years has been that nobody gets fired for buying from Cisco Systems. When it comes to optical networking products, we have reached the stage in which the same can be said for Ciena, although we believe it has come about despite its top leadership. While both Infinera and its archrival continue to benefit greatly from the US government protection from Chinese competition, which in our opinion is for no legitimate reason, customers are obviously going to think at least twice before buying from the PIC-fixated supplier because once again, its seems that its long-term survival is in doubt. As usually the case, listening to one of Infinera’s quarterly earnings calls along with seeing the slides associated with the event, always raises more questions than provides answers. After its latest conference, we have the following 14 inquiries for the top executives at ...

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