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60-second interview with Infonetics' Andrew Schmitt

Market research firm Infonetics Research, now part of IHS Inc., has issued its 2014 summary of the global wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) equipment market. Andrew Schmitt, research director for carrier transport networking, in a Q&A with Gazettabyte.


Andrew Schmitt

Q: Infonetics claims the global WDM market grew 6% in 2014, to total US $10 billion. What accounted for such impressive growth in 2014?

AS: Primarily North American strength from data centre-related spending and growth in China.

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Business services and mobile revive WDM-PON interest

"WDM-PON is many things to many people" - Jon Baldry

It was in 2005 that Novera Optics, a pioneer of WDM-PON (wavelength-division multiplexing, passive optical networking), was working with Korea Telecom in a trial involving 50,000 residential lines. Yet, one decade later, WDM-PON remains an emerging technology. And when a WDM-PON deployment does occur, it is for business services and mobile backhaul rather than residential broadband.  

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EZchip packs 100 ARM cores into one networking chip  


The Tile-Mx100. Source: EZchip

  • The industry's first detailed chip featuring 100, 64-bit ARM cores
  • The Tile-Mx devices will perform control plane processing and data plane processing
  • The 100-core chip will have 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports and support 200 Gigabit duplex traffic 

EZchip has detailed the industry's first 100-core processor. Dubbed the Tile-Mx100, the processor will be the most powerful of a family of devices aimed at such applications as software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV), load-balancing and security. Other uses include video processing and application recognition, to identify applications riding over a carrier's network.

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Photonics and optics: interchangeable yet different

Why is it fibre-optics, and why is it not the semiconductor photonic amplifier? It is all to do with a systems perspective versus a device perspective. An industry debate about optics and photonics.

Many terms in telecom are used interchangeably. Terms gain credibility with use but over time things evolve. For example, people understand what is meant by the term carrier [of traffic] or operator [of a network] and even the term incumbent [operator] even though markets are now competitive and 'telephony' is no longer state-run.


"For me, optics is the equivalent of electrical, and photonics is the equivalent of electronics - LSI, VLSI chips and the like" - Mehdi Asghari


Operators - ex-incumbents or otherwise - also do more that oversee the network and now provide complex services. But of course they differ from service providers such as the over-the-top players [third-party providers delivering services over an operator's infrastructure, rather than any theatrical behaviour] or internet content providers. 

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Q&A with Richard Soref - Final Part

In the final part of the interview with Gazettabyte, Richard Soref talks about hybrid and monolithic integration, mid-infrared optics, how his photonics predictions made in a 2006 paper have fared, 2-micron-based optical communications, and his talk at OFC in March.

"In a rosy future, every smart phone, tablet, wrist watch, and hand-held device would contain one of these chemical-medical-physical sensors."

Richard Soref


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Q&A with photonics pioneer, Richard Soref - Part 1

Richard Soref has spent over 50 years researching photonics, contributing groundbreaking work in the areas of liquid crystals, silicon photonics and the broader topic of mid-infrared wavelengths and Group IV photonics. For 27 years he was employed at the Air Force Research Laboratory. He has also worked at the Sperry Research Center, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and is now a research professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

In part 1 of a two-part interview with Gazettabyte, he details his research interests, explains what is meant by Group IV photonics, and discusses why photonics has not matched the semiconductor industry in terms of integration, and how that could change. 


Optics is a seemingly small subset of physics but really optics is a huge field with a deep, variegated nature waiting to be discovered

Richard Soref


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Graphene prototype modulator shown working at 10 Gigabit 

  • Imec's graphene electro-absorption modulator works at 10 Gigabit-per-second
  • The modulator is small and has be shown to be thermally stable
  • Much work is required to develop the modulator commercially


Cross-section of the graphene electro-absorption modulator. The imec work was first detailed in a paper at the IEDM conference held in December 2014 in San Francisco. Source: imec

Imec has demonstrated an optical modulator using graphene operating at up to 10 Gigabit. The Belgium nano-electronics centre is exploring graphene - carbon atoms linked in a 2D sheet - as part of its silicon photonics research programme investigating next-generation optical interconnect. Chinese vendor Huawei joined imec's programme late last year.

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