Singapore: GlobalFoundries/Coherent/Poet

January, 2017

As a delegate to the EPIC mission to Singapore, this writer was impressed by the entrepreneurial enthusiasm, work ethic, and exceptional hospitality of the people in the country. While I am hardly a fan in general of public-private partnerships or too much of an emphasis on technology development at universities in which the best engineers are not necessarily in the front lines of businesses, which are more inclined to push for technological R&D more pragmatically, the relatively small population of Singapore helps ensure that there is limited separation (as well as more direct cooperation) between the three major entities involved in optical development. The nation is also just about at top of the list in the world regarding economic freedom, which is critical in allowing for thriving businesses.

One of the key aspects that tends to get overlooked is despite being a small country, there is an incredible amount of transmission capacity that goes in and out of Singapore through an increasingly high number of submarine cables that land at its coastline, which is a major boon to its economy. While the large, hyperscale operators are substantially financing undersea infrastructure to interconnect their data centers internationally, Singapore is also likely to further benefit as it has become a major hub in Asia for banking and financial institutions. With these types of companies having particularly unique problems with latency matters, we expect that they will as well become major participants in the growth spurt of subsea cables.

In addition to the EPIC delegation visiting academic as well as governmental institutions and agencies, we had the opportunity to travel to three manufacturing plants of firms in the photonics space. The first was to GlobalFoundries, which included a tour of its quite impressive clean room and its high level of automation. It was not surprising that there was a lack of awareness at this location at what seems to be discussions between Global and IBM Bromont in Canada about getting together on the production of “silicon photonics.”

Unlike GlobalFoundries Singapore, which is regularly filing patents, there is no R&D activity at Coherent Singapore. It provides an Asian hub for the rest of the corporation including for purposes of procurement with the goal of providing more efficient manufacturing by keeping the overall process as local as possible. The delegation noted the means of Coherent maintaining operational and quality control internationally through a rather sophisticated platform. In addition, there was a level of uncertainty as to how everything would shake out as a result of the merger with Rofin-Sinar Technologies.

At Denselight Semiconductors, one could see the discomfort level on the faces of executives in attempting to answer my pointed questions about the viability of the solution offered by its new parent company, POET Technologies. It was only a few days after our visit that it was announced that there will be a streamlining of the DenseLight organization in favor of maximizing support for the POET device.

Please find details on our latest reports, including Clash of Metro 100G Optical Vendors with Shifting Network Paradigm and Clash of Optical Component Vendors & Technologies in Data Center Networks here. For our seven-day-a-week updates, please follow us here.

[written by Mark Lutkowitz]

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