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Optical components

Mintera Challenges StrataLight in 40G Fight

The market for high-speed subsystems is heating up, as Mintera Corp. is offering up a challenge to 40-Gbit/s leader StrataLight Communications .

With the announcement of its MI 4000XM module this week, Mintera has come to market with the first differential phase-shift keying (DPSK) transceiver in a standard 300-pin format. (See Mintera Ships 40G Module.)

StrataLight already offers a 40-Gbit/s 300-pin transceiver, announced at OFC/NFOEC last March. But its module uses the optical duo-binary modulation format, which analysts say the market is moving away from. (See StrataLight Intros Module.)

"The new modulation format seems like the way the market is going, so Mintera gets a leap in announcing the product first," says Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perrin.

But he adds that, at the behest of customers like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), "StrataLight is looking to move beyond duo-binary, because even they realize it's not the best approach."

Mintera seems to have quite a competitive gap to overcome anyway. StrataLight claims to hold an 80 percent market share for 40-Gbit/s subsystems, and it shipped about 1,500 modules in 2007, according to Dave Sykes, vice president of sales and marketing. (See StrataLight Touts Milestone.)

StrataLight has six OEM partnerships with equipment vendors, of which two -- Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) and Nokia Networks -- are announced.

Sykes views Mintera's announcement as "somewhat of a retrenchment. It looks like they're giving up on the system- or chassis-based market because they couldn't sell it to anyone."

Mintera will continue to offer its chassis-based product, says Niall Robinson, the company's vice president of product marketing. But he expects that "over the next few years, the general migration in 40-Gbit/s will be to move to all module-based products."

Sykes agrees that the 40-Gbit/s market "will move to a 300-pin module market, and will miniaturize just like 10-Gbit/s did."

Even so, he says his company has an advantage in being able to offer a suite of interoperable components. "The problem that system guys are having is in trying to get different modules to interoperate together. We are the only company in the market to offer a complete suite and guarantee it will work."

Mintera's announcement comes as a result of a partnership with JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU), which made a strategic investment in the vendor in October. At the time, the companies said they would work together on a 300-pin module based on Mintera's adaptive DPSK technology. (See Mintera Adds Cash, Partner and Mintera Ships 40G Module.)

Perhaps more important than the product announcement itself is Mintera's relationship with JDSU, which Perrin says "gives the company more clout" and could help it score customers that it may not have been able to nab on its own.

Mintera already has "significant orders and multiple customers" for the new module, Robinson says, although the company isn't revealing names. The sales include a shipment in December to a European equipment manufacturer that plans to use the MI 4000XM in its 40-Gbit/s line cards.

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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