Light Reading

Silicon Photonics Prep for 100G Arrival

Craig Matsumoto
Valley Wonk
Craig Matsumoto
1/24/2013
50%
50%

Silicon photonics are on the verge of a more serious market presence, and while that's something to take notice of, it's not going to change the world overnight. That's pretty much what I concluded after OFC/NFOEC a year ago. (See Silicon Photonics Signals Red Alert for 100G.) But Intel Corp. has rekindled the hype. Last week at the Open Compute Summit, the company said it's handed engineering samples of 100Gbit/s photonic interfaces to Arista Networks Inc. and other customers. These aren't pluggable modules, but on-board optics for data-center applications -- connecting a server to a top-of-rack switch, for example. Then there's Cisco Systems Inc., which has been showing (but not really talking about) its own 100Gbit/s optical module, a pluggable format called CPAK. It's a smaller alternative to the CFP client-side 100Gbit/s interface that's shipping today, and it's presumed to be using silicon photonics from the Lightwire acquisition. Two Cisco sources mentioned during the fall that CPAK shipments were "imminent," but reports now say CPAK will be debuting sometime this summer. Is either item really that big a deal yet? What Intel showed is already possible without silicon photonics. Intel did have its optics mounted directly onto the board, as opposed to putting them in a transceiver module -- and while that offers a density improvement, it's also been done. Finisar Corp. showed it at OFC/NFOEC last year, as Chris Cole reminded me. (He's Finisar's director of transceiver engineering, but we were talking about his own opinions about the announcement. You can read more in his comments on this EE Times thread.) Cole also doubted that Intel's 100Gbit/s is that close to commercialization, given that the company doesn't expect 100Gbit/s server interfaces to be a big deal for a few years yet. CPAK, meanwhile, is a Cisco-only module. Most people think Cisco's doing CPAK mainly as a way to keep its module margins high. Optics have been a pretty good source of Cisco profits for years, and the gray market of off-the-shelf devices might be poised to eat away at some of that profit. "It makes it easier for them to defend having Cisco transceivers," says Karen Liu, an analyst with Ovum Ltd. (See Gray Market Optics Get a Brand Name and Cisco Modules Pay Off -- for Other Companies.) CPAK is supposedly the result of Cisco's impatience with industry-standard 100Gbit/s modules, which are moving to the CFP2 and CFP4 multiservice agreements (MSAs) eventually. But as analyst Alex Henderson of Needham & Co. points out, CPAK won't arrive that much earlier than CFP2 (he says both are waiting for development of a particular physical connector) and doesn't blow away CFP2 in power consumption; both should be around 7.5 W, he thinks. So, in both cases, you can argue that the revolutionary nature of silicon photonics hasn't shown itself yet. The power and density haven't severely thrashed the competition -- and because these are 100Gbit/s devices, I'm not sure silicon will crater the price, either. It's not time to panic. What would bother me more, if I sold optical components, is the number of competitors coming to transceivers due to silicon photonics. Analyst James Kisner of Jefferies & Co. Inc. listed several in a recent report. He thinks Kotura Inc. is going to launch a QSFP+ pluggable transceiver for less than $1,000 late this year. He believes Acacia Communications Inc., the startup developing 100Gbit/s coherent transceivers, is using silicon photonics. And he thinks Luxtera Inc., which recently found a manufacturing partner in STMicroelectronics NV, might create a CFP competitor. Even if silicon photonics offers no immediate advantage, you're ending up with more competitors in a space that's always fighting for decent margins. I suppose that's nothing new in optical transceiver sales, and it's bound to make for a dynamic OFC/NFOEC. — Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Craig Matsumoto
50%
50%
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/24/2013 | 6:43:49 PM
re: Silicon Photonics Prep for 100G Arrival
The board-mounted aspect is arguably the most important thing Intel showed, as Chris Cole pointed out to me.-á I'm inclined to agree, but it's been done.-á (Finisar last year, and Avaya did board-mounted optics too, in 2010 iirc.)-á

The 100G photonics were nice but they're a continuation of the trail Intel has had us following for a decade -- while it's good to see the technology getting closer to market, it doesn't seem imminent.
More Blogs from Valley Wonk
Comcast joins Google in asking for a flexible-rate optical standard, rather than 400G or terabit, but that's easier said than done
Cisco, Juniper and other more traditional Interop speakers might get overshadowed by the forces of virtualization
The Open Networking Summit has climbed the hype curve, but the conference should cling to its roots as a techie discussion forum for software-defined networking
The coalition's chairman says all these companies plan to further the SDN cause and don't have a 'nefarious' angle
Big vendors are reportedly banding together to unify SDN's approach but is it more about steering the conversation?
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.