CyOptics Targets 40 Gbit/s DWDM Components

There’s a new player in the already burgeoning community of start-ups working on optical networking components.

CyOptics Inc. http://www.cyoptics.com is focusing on delivering ultra-high-speed ‘active’ components for use in next-generation dense wave division multiplexers (DWDM).

Today’s DWDM products run at 2.5 Gbit/s per channel. A few companies, including Nortel Networks http://www.nortelnetworks.com have announced 10 Gbit/s devices. But CyOptics is working on components that will allow vendors to build DWDM equipment that runs at 40 Gbit/s. “You’ll see commercial availability of the first 40 gig systems in late 2001,” says Evan C. Sanders, CyOptics vice president of sales.

The market for this technology could be huge, some believe. “Companies like MCI are desperate for 40 gig solutions. If CyOptics has the technology that will allow vendors to deliver them it will be bought up in a heart beat,” says Scott Clavenna, principal analyst, Pioneer Consulting LLC http://www.pioneerconsulting.com.

Until now, attempts to manufacture 40 Gbit/s components have been stymied by problems with heat and cost. But CyOptics claims to have developed a new technique that eliminates these issues.

Traditional DWDM components are made from a crystal called Lithium Niobate. Basically, the crystal acts as a shutter, turning the light signal on and off to allow it to carry digital data. The problem is that the voltage required to drive the signal increases in proportion to the speed of the device. A 40 Gbit/s system with a Lithium Niobate modulator would require drive voltages in the 10-15 volt range. Equipment made in that way would be both bulky and expensive, and could suffer from overheating problems.

With the CyOptics approach, Lithium Niobate is replaced by Indium Phosphide. The vendor claims that the new material will allow vendors to replace the crystal with a much cheaper component, called a Electro-Absorption Modulator, which only needs about 3 volts of power. “Making 40-Gbit/s transceivers the old way with Lithium Niobate is troublesome, so this definitely makes sense,” comments Clavenna of Pioneer.

Sounds great, although there are some question marks. For one thing, the Indium Phosphide approach is unproven. Also, two far larger companies, Alcatel SAhttp://www.alcatel.com and Fujitsu Ltd.http://www.fujitsu.com, also are rumoured to be working on Indium Phosphide solutions.

Still, CyOptics has lined up an impressive pool of talent. Its president is Eran Yarkoni. Before moving to CyOptics he managed Intel’s Pentium processor line -- a $10 billion business.

CyOptics is not the only new startup working on active components that is generating interest. Others include Kymata Ltd. http://www.kymata.com, based in Scotland, and Teem Photonics http://www.teemphotonics.com, based in France.

—Stephen Saunders, US editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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