The on-board 100Gbit/s optics that Arista Networks Inc. recently announced are coming from Finisar Corp., according to one analyst. (See Arista's On-Board Optics Boost 100G Density.)
The optics -- which include 10 lasers placed directly on a line card, replacing a transceiver module -- are making use of Finisar's Board Mount Optical Assembly (BOA), writes analyst Alex Henderson of Needham & Co., in a note published Thursday.
Finisar has been shipping that product for more than a year. At OFC/NFOEC in March the company showed a version using 25Gbit/s VCSELs, which has the same footprint as the 10Gbit/s design.
Arista's 7500E switch, announced last week, puts 12 100Gbit/s ports on each card, a feat achieved using Finisar's BOA, according to the analyst's note (though neither Henderson nor Light Reading has direct confirmation of this).
That's a dramatic leap in 100Gbit/s density and one that comes at a critical time when viewed alongside silicon photonics developments, as the CFP2 interfaces that are just becoming available are likely to fit only eight ports per card. (See Silicon Photonics Prep for 100G Arrival.)
Silicon photonics promises benefits in power consumption, cost and possibly density, but the few products on the market don't yet provide leaps like that.
Henderson cites the 7500E as evidence that the silicon photonics threat to optical components vendors seems overstated. "Finisar is beating silicon photonics with dramatically lower-cost form factors and substantially improved capacity and enabling very low price-per-ports in the new Arista chassis," Henderson writes.
Even so, Finisar isn't ignoring silicon photonics. "We already have access to the technology. We're looking at it extensively in our labs," Rafik Ward, Finisar's vice president of marketing, told Light Reading at OFC/NFOEC. "At ECOC [in September 2012], there were so many guys coming up to me with business cards. 'Hey, I'm from a fab.' 'Hey, I'm from a research organization.' There are people out there whose business model is to give silicon photonics access to anybody who needs it."
— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading