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Photonic integration becoming a key technology for optical suppliers

08 August 2012
Systems suppliers increasingly view photonic integration as a strong potential differentiator and are moving to bring this optics expertise in-house. That is one of the findings from Heavy Reading's report Photonic Integration, Super Channels & the March to Terabit Networks. 


Until now, photonic integration has not been a ‘must have’ item for systems suppliers. There have been other ways to get at lower costs and footprint reductions. "We are starting to see photonic integration move into the must-have category for systems suppliers, in certain applications, which means that it becomes a must-have item for the components companies that supply them," says Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading.
The market research firm also notes an important shift in innovation in long-haul optical transport from optics to electronics in recent years – with the latter centered on coherent detection."This is a big shift - and it has taken some of the burden off photonic integration,” says Perrin.
The study identifies several optical integration market opportunities. One is long haul which already uses photonic integrated circuits (PICs). Another opportunity for PICs is client-side modules as PICs are seen as the best way to reduce module sizes and improve system density. "Then, beyond 100G, to super-channel-based long-haul systems, PICs will play a big role here, as parallel photonic integration will be used to build these super-channels," says Perrin.
The year 2012 started with two major system suppliers buying PIC companies: Cisco Systems and Lightwire, and Huawei and CIP Technologies. With Alcatel-Lucent and Infinera having in-house abilities, Perrin expects such developments will put pressure on other optical suppliers to have a PIC strategy.
"It will be interesting to watch what other [optical integration] M&A activity occurs, and how this activity affects the components players," he says.
By Roy Rubenstein