Silicon Photonics: Widespread Usage on Active Components Doubtful

September, 2014

While the amount of industry chatter about silicon photonics rose substantially in 2014, partially because of certain market research firms looking to sell more reports, the technological hurdles, especially with insertion loss, make extensive use of active, combined components, such as for modulators and photodetectors, unlikely in the foreseeable future. Although there have definitely been numerous demonstrations of integrating with these CMOS fabrication processes, like with receivers, both the performance and cost are superior with standard methods. Certainly for passive devices, silicon lends itself quite well to integration, including for AWGs. Instead of using micro optics, combining waveguides with attenuators is being accomplished with Si. With 100G receivers, the delay lines are being integrated with the phase combiners...

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Mellanox’s Messaging Resonance Not Key to Success

July, 2015

Mellanox Technologies is a typical Israeli-based firm in the datacom/telecom space in that it excels at technology development, but not necessarily from a marketing/sales perspective. While the vendor has expanded internationally and has its second headquarters in the US (including several of the top CXOs), which is potentially helpful to corporate communications, it appears that much of the culture still reflects Yokneam rather than Sunnyvale. Nonetheless, although getting its fair share of appreciation for its technical strengths may at times be problematic for Mellanox, its rather consistently positive financial performance as well as its impressive installed base of customers speak volumes – and when the supplier happens to place an emphasis in its messaging in a potentially questionable way, insufficient outside attention may actually be quite beneficial. A good...

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Microsoft’s Network: Hitches with Quasi-Carrier Mindset

August, 2015

Microsoft has been caught in the undesirable middle with its Data Center (DC) infrastructure between striving to innovate with the lowest cost, state-of-the-art optical solutions as a huge enterprise player, and reconciling it with a historical propensity to use standard service provider equipment, which often has proprietary aspects that make it a more expensive proposition. The proclivity toward the latter seems to have also resulted in more of a carrier mentality in terms of a “pay-as-you-go” type of situation, constantly responding to bandwidth growth spurts throughout its global network, but there are apparently no signs of an effort to do a full redesign of its intra- and inter-data center build-out to really get out in front of accommodating the rising needs for data transmission. While such a move would be quite costly, it also adds up to an exorbitant amount with its...

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Silicon Photonics’ Shift: Still Cost/Loss Issues

March, 2016

The lead article in the September 1969 issue of the Bell System Technical Journal was written by Stewart E. Miller, entitled “Integrated Optics: An Introduction,” which framed “a proposal for a miniature laser beam circuitry" along with the promise of “economy should ultimately result.” Close to a half of a century later, even with a severe bastardization of the original definition in recent times, as the electronics have been excluded from the chip (even Luxtera had to abandon its vision of “CMOS photonics” at 100-gig), challenges remain with expensive cost along with poor performance. While perhaps the best way to characterize Silicon Photonics (SP) today is the use of a continuous wave light source and a modulator in Si, as opposed to...

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