Days after one analyst said Arista Networks Inc. is using a 100Gbit/s optical engine from Finisar Corp., another analyst is now saying the supplier is Avago Technologies Pte.
Either way, we're talking about the same product: an array of vertical-cavity, surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) going directly onto a line card, removing the need for an optical transceiver. Arista's recently announced 7500E switch uses that trick to get densities of 12 100Gbit/s ports per card.
Finisar has such a product -- but so does Avago, as analyst James Kisner of Jefferies & Co. Inc. points out in a report issued Wednesday morning.
"We understand that Finisar may be qualified in the future but has not yet achieved that milestone," he writes.
None of this is necessarily good news for Finisar, Kisner believes.
First, Kisner -- who's convinced silicon photonics is on the verge of having a dramatic effect on the optical components sector -- says Arista is preparing a silicon photonics-based version of the 7500E, once the technology is ready. In other words, he's still convinced Finisar will feel the pain of silicon photonics (although Finisar does say it's already got its hands on the technology through other suppliers).
Second, and maybe more importantly, a 100Gbit/s VCSEL array costs about US$150, compared with a standard transceiver that goes for more like $1,300, Kisner points out. That $1,300 should drop as 100Gbit/s volumes rise, but the point is that no matter who's supplying the VCSELs, it's another example of the pricing pressure the optical components sector is experiencing from its customers.
"Longer term, board mounted optics in board-to-board (backplane) applications could be an interesting incremental opportunity for Finisar," Kisner writes, because backplanes are still reliant on copper connections and have yet to move to optical. "But at this point the bulk of that opportunity feels like it's around two years away or more."