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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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Finisar Getting a Raw Deal with Silicon Photonics

September, 2014

When it comes to technology development, some of the leading analysts in the financial community have a tendency to blindly follow a template of conventional wisdom. One of the most egregious examples was during the bubble when there was the widespread notion that the need for bandwidth could not be satiated, and service providers were literally being punished for installing insufficient dark fiber. A similar injustice has occurred with Finisar with the imagined threat to the company by the introduction of silicon photonics. These investment firms talk about the “checks” they conduct in drawing their conclusions. Well, how about spending approximately five minutes checking with an objective optical scientist? As we suggested in a

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A Kaiam Strategic Partner: Google?

September, 2014

Concerning the recent $35 million announcement by Kaiam of equity funding, our intelligence indicates that one of the two strategic partners is Google. We also think the other partner is Microsoft. In addition, we believe that the total valuation is two to three times revenue -- so over $70 million. While Kaiam has clever packaging, we are not convinced that it has the lowest cost in the market. Nevertheless, the supplier has benefited from getting out there early in the data center/datacom space. It is likely that it owns the 10x10 business in that sector. Unquestionably, signs of two giant enterprise firm funding Kaiam may be about ensuring direct access to unique 100G technology. Perhaps it is the vendor’s Hybrid Mixer PLC – and/or maybe something else that could possibly be on the drawing board that involves a coherent, serial 100G device. More practically...

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Intel Behind $200M Photonics Competition?

October, 2014

The US government did not call it a “silicon photonics contest.” Perhaps the federal funding for this new Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) would permit Intel and others to gradually shift to more of a generic term for its future development of chips that includes optics, but would not necessarily involve silicon. Actually, in a recent announcement, IBM implied that its new $3 billion, five-year plan for chip development, might not comprise Si photonics. IMI is quite reminiscent of SEMATECH (SEmiconductor MAnufacturing TECHnology), incorporated in 1987, which became a not-for-profit consortium that included the US Department of Defense (DOD) as well as semiconductor suppliers and educational institutions. Its main purpose was to grab back leadership on market share with chips, which was taken away by Japanese companies. There seemed little doubt that early on,...

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Integrated Photonics Clash

March, 2015

Please join us for our panel at OFC 2015 for a change of pace with fewer slides and with a focus on a lively discussion (and lots of audience participation), which will genuinely face the challenges involved in achieving the goal of increased photonic integration. One of the biggest areas of contention between the speakers will concern cost as well as other factors in advocating the use of optics versus pushing for greater utilization of electronics to achieve the desired objective. Also, some conflict will arise over the economics of large and small companies including access to adequate capital. In particular, the panel will address a very significant problem. With both system vendors and little component firms (in some cases,...

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