Agere's 3D MEMS Switch 'Not First'

OMM intends to ship a 64x64 subsystem before Lucent's spinoff

February 26, 2001

2 Min Read
Agere's 3D MEMS Switch 'Not First'

Agere Systems, the components spinoff of Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), today claimed a “first” in optical switching subsystems. The big question is whether it will stay first for very long.

Here’s the score. Agere reckons it will be the first to produce a 64x64 port switching subsystem based on three-dimensional micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) in a production line environment (see Agere Unveils MEMS Optical Switch Bit).

It plans to demonstrate a prototype at the upcoming Optical Fiber Communications (OFC) conference in March, ship samples to selected customers in the second quarter, and deliver “production quantities” in the third quarter.

The demo at OFC is quite a big deal if Agere manages to pull it off, because previous demos of large-scale 3D MEMS switches at trade shows haven’t lived up to their billing in terms of the numbers of ports actually carrying traffic (see Xros's OFC Splash Was All Wet for instance).

However, plenty of other vendors are also developing 3D MEMS switching subsystems, and at least one of them, OMM Inc., is hoping to beat Agere out of the gate.

“It’s our intention to deliver a 3D product as early as April this year,” says Conrad Burke, OMM’s senior VP of marketing and sales. The subsystem will be in the form of a “pay as you grow” rack which will accommodate modules. “The intention is to deliver a 64x64 configuration first,” Burke adds.

OMM is probably in a better position than Agere to convince customers to buy its 3D system. “We’ve already got very significant customer commitment,” notes Burke, pointing to strategic partnerships with Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV), Siemens AG (Frankfurt: SIE), and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR).

-- Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading

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