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Silicon Photonics: A Market Takes Shape
Silicon photonics is an emerging technology aiming to embed photonic (i.e., light-based) networking components in silicon chips to replace the discrete optical components. It is a subset of the discipline of photonic integration, which also involves the integration of many different optical components in small chips and can involve a variety of different chip materials including, but not limited to, indium phosphide, gallium arsenide, silica, and silicon.

Silicon photonics offers the possibility of dramatic costs savings (in terms of materials, components, and energy consumption) for computing and communications, and of dramatic increases in capacity. Technology has come far enough that silicon photonics can now potentially disrupt the component supply-side of electronics and telecom markets. Major market disruption if it happens remains some years away, but the first commercial products have now appeared in the marketplace, and vendors are making sales. Electronic chip vendors, telecom component vendors, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) should be aware of the growing silicon photonics movement and have a clear vision of how the technology could be applied within their businesses.

The telecom and high-performance computing industries need silicon photonics for two key reasons: cost and capacity. Silicon photonics has the potential to be cheaper than the electronics-based solutions for micro-, short-, and medium-range data transmission. It promises to cost less in terms of materials, components, and ongoing power consumption. At the same time, silicon photonics offers a potential increase in communications bandwidth at cost-effective price points.

The silicon photonics market is potentially enormous. The technology is being considered for nearly every distance of communications, including (but not limited to) on-chip communications within computers, inter-chip communications, backplane connections within servers and switches, communications between servers and switches, connectivity in the consumer and business electronics environment, and the wider area for access network communications and metro network communications. The only places vendors are not (publicly) thinking about using silicon photonics is in the long-haul communications environment, where the cost benefits of replacing optoelectronic components with silicon photonics are minimal.

This report analyzes the prospects for the silicon photonics market. It identifies and evaluates the early products brought to market, considers where the technology might go, and compares and profiles 12 vendors now leading the way in research, development, and commercialization of this new technology.

Silicon Photonics: A Market Takes Shape provides critical insight and analysis for a range of industry participants, including:

Telecom equipment manufacturers needing independent insight into current and potential developments in silicon photonics, as well as a view into likely timeframes for future product development in this sector
Developers of silicon photonics and photonic integration technologies looking for a concise evaluation of market positioning and likely market demand for their products
Network operators looking for an assessment of how the silicon photonics sector will develop, and how it will affect product performance and cost in the long term
Investors needing a better understanding of the scale of the opportunity that silicon photonics presents to technology developers and telecom equipment manufacturers
Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (lri0808toc.pdf)
The silicon photonics market is in its nascent stages, and there is plenty of scope for innovation and change. However, it is possible to compare the progress of players in terms of commercialization, and, for those that have commercialized their products, what they have brought to market. It is also possible to compare players on the basis of their current and near-term target markets. The following figure shows how silicon photonics suppliers now compare in terms of the commercial availability of products.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled in this report include: Bell Labs, a division of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU); Enablence Technologies Inc.; Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ); IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM); Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC); Kotura Inc.; Lightwire Inc.; Luxtera Inc.; PGT Photonics, a subsidiary of Pirelli & Co. SpA (Milan: PECI); Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA); Translucent Inc., a subsidiary of Silex Systems Ltd.; and US Conec Ltd.
Total pages: 24
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