10-GigE Transponders: Update

Recent announcements from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Riverstone Networks Inc. of multiport line cards at less than $10,000 per port could well be the sparks that ignite the 10-Gigabit Ethernet market into significant growth. High port densities and low(ish) port costs have always been essential for any new backbone transmission technology to hit the big time.

All this hangs on transponders (and sometimes, pedantically, on transceivers), those natty little devices that turn data signals into high-speed optical signals and vice versa. And little is the key word here, because the 10-Gigabit Ethernet transponder market is dominated by an alphabet soup of new and ever-shrinking standard form factors as vendors have signed up to an ever-extending series of multisource agreements (MSAs).

The introduction of the XENPAK MSA transponders started the development of multiport linecards delivering increased 10-Gbit/s port density and reduced cost per port. And further reductions in port cost are on the way, as the industry moves to transponders based on the XPAK, X2, and XFP MSA specifications. These latest transponders are lower power, smaller, and cheaper to manufacture.

So a lot has been happening in this market since Light Reading last reviewed it in August 2002 (see 10-Gig Ethernet Transponders). The first X2 and XFP products have appeared, and transponder vendors Agilent, Finisar, Infineon, JDS Uniphase, and Network Elements Inc. have all announced new products.

And consolidation has reared its ugly head. Agere Systems Inc. (NYSE: AGR.A) has sold its transponder product line to TriQuint; Molex Inc. (Nasdaq: MOLX/MOLXA) has sold its line to Emcore; Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: VTSS) has sold its line to Avanex. And Cielo and Ignis Optics have been acquired, respectively, by Optical Communication Products and Bookham Technology.

So the question is not only: Which MSA form factors are going to dominate the market? But also: Who is going to be making them? To which nonexperts will add: What do the different MSAs do, anyway?

So read Light Reading’s review of the technologies, form factors, applications, and market for 10-Gigabit Ethernet transponders. For each transponder type the characteristics are discussed, together with details of the features, power, and availability of products from the following vendors:

Here's a hyperlinked list of the report's contents:

To view the archived Light Reading Webinar on which this report is based, click here.

Finally, here's some earlier Light Reading coverage of transponders and 10-Gigabit Ethernet that may be of interest:

— Simon Stanley is founder and principal consultant of Earlswood Marketing Ltd. He is also the author of several other Light Reading reports on communications chips, including 10-Gig Network Processors, Packet Switch Chips , Traffic Manager Chips , 10-Gig Ethernet Transponders , and Next-Gen Sonet Silicon .

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Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 11:13:06 PM
re: 10-GigE Transponders: Update We've added products from Civcom to the 300 pin table, and products from Luminent to the XFP table.
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