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Silicon Photonics

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Entries in Acacia (3)


TIP seeks to shake up the telecom marketplace 

The telecom industry has long recognised the benefits of the Internet content providers' data-centre work practices. It has led to the operators starting to embrace software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) technology whereby telecom functions that previously required custom hardware are executed as software on servers.

 Niall Robinson

Now, ten telcos, systems vendors, component and other players have joined Facebook as part of the Telecom Infra Project, or TIP, to bring the benefits of open-source design and white-box platforms to telecoms. TIP has over 300 members and has seven ongoing projects across three network segments of focus: access, backhaul, and core and management. 

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Verizon tips silicon photonics as a key systems enabler  

Verizon's director of optical transport network architecture and design, Glenn Wellbrock, shares the operator’s thoughts regarding silicon photonics.


Part 3: An operator view

Glenn Wellbrock is upbeat about silicon photonics’ prospects. Challenges remain, he says, but the industry is making progress. “Fundamentally, we believe silicon photonics is a real enabler,” he says. “It is the only way to get to the densities that we want.”


Glenn Wellbrock

Wellbrock adds that indium phosphide-based photonic integrated circuits (PICs) can also achieve such densities.

But there are many potential silicon photonics suppliers because of its relatively low barrier to entry, unlike indium phosphide. "To date, Infinera has been the only real [indium phosphide] PIC company and they build only for their own platform,” says Wellbrock.

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Silicon photonics: "The excitement has gone"

The opinion of industry analysts regarding silicon photonics is mixed at best. More silicon photonics products are shipping but challenges remain.


Part 1: An analyst perspective

"The excitement has gone,” says Vladimir Kozlov, CEO of LightCounting Market Research. “Now it is the long hard work to deliver products.” 

Dale Murray, LightCounting

However, he is less concerned about recent setbacks and slippages for companies such as Intel that are developing silicon photonics products. This is to be expected, he says, as happens with all emerging technologies.

Mark Lutkowitz, principal at consultancy fibeReality, is more circumspect. “As a general rule, the more that reality sets in, the less impressive silicon photonics gets to be,” he says. “The physics is just hard; light is not naturally inclined to work on the silicon the way electronics does.”

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