& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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?
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP’s Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
UBBS 2016 Highlights

5|12|16   |     |   (0) comments


Highlights of Huawei's UBBS event in Hong Kong.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
WiCipedia: Short Skirts & Back-Up Plans
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 5/20/2016
Google Doubles Down on Machine Learning, AI
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 5/19/2016
Eurobites: Be More European, EU Tells Streaming Services
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 5/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.