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 Swedish vendor has undergone a significant transformation during the past few years, adjusting to the demands of next-generation communications companies.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
What's in Store for Huawei & DataCore?

4|10|15   |   05:44   |   (0) comments


At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, George Teixeira, CEO of software-defined storage (SDS) specialist DataCore Software, explains why he has just signed a partnership agreement with Huawei Technologies.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Du Puts Its Faith in Huawei's Routers

4|9|15   |   3:42   |   (0) comments


Adnan Masood, director of Enterprise MS Solutions Marketing at du, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) operator also known as Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, explains why his company chose to use Huawei's multifunctional AR routers as part of its managed enterprise services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Gets Active in the Data Center

4|9|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


With enterprise users looking to maximize the use of their data center assets, Huawei’s Chief Architect & Technical Director of IT Data Center Solutions, Bruce Su, explains how the company's six-layer active-active data center solution is eradicating the need to deploy passive, redundant data center assets.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Blue Consult & Huawei for a Better Solution

4|8|15   |   4:01   |   (0) comments


Martin Rott, CEO, and Marc Metzler, head of sales virtualization, from Germany's Blue Consult discuss their collaboration with Huawei and TrendMicro to develop a secure, scalable IT platform that can meet the needs of the most demanding enterprise users.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Beach Petroleum on eLTE & Mining

4|8|15   |   3:09   |   (0) comments


Network systems integrator Jeremy Hamlyn explains how Huawei's secure packet-based trunking communications system, eLTE, can help remote communities and companies in the mining, oil and gas sectors, deploy efficient communications networks that are perfect for video and data as well as voice.
Upcoming Live Events
May 5, 2015, Hyatt McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Network Instruments, a JDSU division, shares results from its 2015 State of the Network, a global survey on security.
Hot Topics
Verizon Scores New OTT Content Deals
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/16/2015
Can WiFi Calling Find Its Voice?
Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/13/2015
Senator Proposes New 'Title X' for Net Neutrality
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/13/2015
Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent in Merger Talks
Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/14/2015
Nokia & Alcatel-Lucent: What's Going On?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 4/15/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures.