Light Reading
The Lightwire acquisition has already been applied to Cisco's next generation of ASICs

Cisco Goes Inside With Silicon Photonics

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
3/14/2013
50%
50%

Cisco Systems Inc. is applying silicon photonics not only to 100Gbit/s modules, but to its own ASICs as well. That was one of the many tech snippets Cisco discussed at its Editors Conference, an information session held Wednesday in San Jose, Calif., for the press. More than a dozen executives took the stage to talk about their domains inside Cisco, and silicon photonics was brought up by David Ward, a Cisco CTO and chief architect. In public, Ward has mostly spoken about Cisco's software-defined networking (SDN) initiatives. But given the option to pick favorite technologies to tell reporters about, he chose to deviate from SDN for a few minutes to talk about silicon photonics, which he called "absolutely the most interesting thing going on in ASIC technology today."


David Ward famously gives his talks while pacing in his socks
Optical chip-to-chip connections will definitely be a factor in Cisco's next-generation ASICs, and the company already has the technology working in the lab, Ward told Light Reading. Cisco got its silicon photonics expertise last year by acquiring Lightwire, which was aiming its silicon photonics at optical modules. Sometime this year, Cisco is expected to formally announce the CPAK format for 100Gbit/s pluggable modules, an alternative to the CFP and CFP2 standards. The more commonly mentioned aspect of silicon photonics, though, is the technology's potential in chip-to-chip interconnect. Intel Corp. is particularly interested in using silicon photonics to boost the input/output density on future chips, because lasers could do the job without pushing power consumption and heat to unreasonable levels. Ward brought up an ancillary benefit: "Because these are much smaller packages for the amount of I/O bandwidth that they have and they use much less power, we now can combine more feature logic into the chip, [rather] than just I/O logic." Cisco has a vested interest in ASIC advances, because it's staking much of its future on a continued churn-out of ASICs. Asked by Light Reading on Wednesday how much longer Cisco expects ASIC-driven equipment to be vital to networking, Senior Vice President Rob Lloyd said, "Forever." Software will be increasingly important, too, but Cisco is convinced that mobility and cloud-based applications will intensify the need for ASIC-based processing throughout the network. For more
— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading
(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Craig Matsumoto
50%
50%
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/15/2013 | 2:30:47 PM
re: Cisco Goes Inside With Silicon Photonics
-áYep, I agree the router low-end will get eaten away. Cisco seems to doubt that (or, to put it another way, maybe they can't afford to believe it?) -- Lloyd's theory is that the increased processing required by cloud/mobility will drive the network edges to require something more sophisticated than x86s.

But I the opposite case is plausible too, where the edge becomes a lot of busy, dumb, task-churning processors with all the heavy-lifting software existing in a controller, or "in the cloud," if you want to say it that way.

(I'm talking about the telecom network here. I think even Cisco would agree there's a low low end -- my house, e.g. -- where an x86/Linux router will be just fine.)
soldack
50%
50%
soldack,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/15/2013 | 1:46:14 AM
re: Cisco Goes Inside With Silicon Photonics
Cisco often buys or works with multiple companies in the same space. -áIn the InfiniBand arena they purchased TopSpin but they shortly there after resold SilverStorm/QLogic gear for awhile. -áASIC will work on the high end and if the volumes are right. -áLittle linux routers are getting better though and will eat up the low end eventually. -áIt was a little while ago that someone posted a server routing 80 gbps using all off the shelf equipment.
Craig Matsumoto
50%
50%
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2013 | 10:44:15 PM
re: Cisco Goes Inside With Silicon Photonics
-áWell... I'm not sure the startups' technologies overlapped that much. Lightwire was about silicon photonics, and CoreOptics' important pieces were other electronics that happen to relate to 100G coherent.

David Ward wasn't saying silicon photonics *are* ASICs, just that the technology is very important to ASICs, and I think he's right.-á I think chip-to-chip interconnect is what most people think about when they think silicon photonics. The technology definitely has a role with future generations of really large chips.
redface
50%
50%
redface,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/14/2013 | 8:47:35 PM
re: Cisco Goes Inside With Silicon Photonics
Cisco bought CoreOptics in 2010 for "highly advanced 100 Gbps technology". -áNow there is Lightwire, for the same 100G technology. -áGo figure. -áIt seems more like Cisco does not know what it is doing. -áRegardless of what Mr. David Ward says, Silicon Photonics is not ASIC. -áIt just shows how clueless Cisco is regarding components. -áAnd Cisco has had almost no success in doing component level work to speak of. -á
Craig Matsumoto
50%
50%
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/14/2013 | 6:17:51 PM
re: Cisco Goes Inside With Silicon Photonics
-áTrue. I was surprised to hear they were already trying on-chip optics.

Of course, Cisco's forward thinking focuses on preserving the key Cisco franchises. While Rob Lloyd has a point about ASIC-driven gear, Cisco is dependent on that trend lasting "forever." I do wonder if the company is taking any steps to be ready in case the x86 revolution suddenly happens. I talked with Pankaj Patel about this a little bit yesterday, so I'm hoping to post that interview soon.
Deirdre Blake
50%
50%
Deirdre Blake,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/14/2013 | 3:05:36 PM
re: Cisco Goes Inside With Silicon Photonics
They're certainly trying to cover all the bases; nice to see some forward thinking coming from Cisco these days.
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
Connecticut Cities Crowdsource Gigabit Nets
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/15/2014
Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed