Intel's 10-Gig Shopping Spree
The big question is: Can Intel use these acquisitions to put itself on the optical components map? Taken individually, the acquisitions don't rate as anything special. But the real value may lie in their combination as Intel's platform for attacking the OC192 (10 Gbit/s) components market.
Intel intends to pool expertise from its optical acquisitions to create low-power, small-footprint transponders that can send 10-Gbit/s signals as far as 80 kilometers. "We're focusing on industry trends to reduce power, cost, and increase reach," says Tony Stelliga, Intel's general manager of strategic marketing and business planning. "Carriers want to put more transponders on a line card, so they can generate more revenue per foot of colocation space. They also want to go longer distances so they can reach more customers, but, at the moment, they need more power to do it."
The biggest of the three outfits, with approximately 80 employees, is Newark, Calif.-based LightLogic Inc. The startup already has customers and revenues for its flagship product, a small form-factor optical transponder, which was unveiled in February (see LightLogic Launches DragonFly). The firm's price tag: about $400 million, according to Intel. The deal is expected to close this quarter.
"LightLogic has made major strides in automating the process of attaching fibers to the module, and it's got the alignment to a very high precision," says Stelliga.
The other two acquisitions, now completed, are Cognet Microsystems Inc. in Los Angeles and nSerial Corp. in Santa Clara, Calif. Both specialize in CMOS (complimentary metal oxide semiconductor) chip technology, a low-power type of circuit.
A developer of high-speed electronics, such as laser drivers and pre- or post-amplifiers, Cognet claims it has products shipping to customers in pre-production quantities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but, according to a source in the industry, it could be in the region of $200 million.
nSerial is a smaller outfit. It's a startup specializing in serializer/deserializer (SerDes) devices, which bridge the gap between high-speed serial traffic coming off a fiber or backplane and the slower internal workings of routers and switches. It's in a hot market segment but appears to be behind the competition in its product development as it has yet to ship products or even put content on its Website (see Accelerant Boosts Backplanes). nSerial commanded a purchase price of approximately $66 million, says Intel.
To send signals farther, Intel will use FEC (forward error correction) coding techniques it gained from its earlier acquisition of Denmark's Giga A/S, in combination with LightLogic's high-precision alignment techniques for getting more light into the fiber. Cognet and nSerial will contribute low-power chips to the overall solution.
The end game? Ultimately, Intel has designs on a 10-Gbit/s transponder for sending signals 80 km, which consumes 8 watts, occupies 12 inches, and costs $10,000. An equivalent device made with today's technologies consumes 22W, needs 127 square inches, and costs about $80,000, the company claims.
-- Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com