As a comm semi guy who will always have a soft spot in his heart for TDM circuit switches and electrical crossconnects, it was a message that resonated with me. But to the assembled congregation, still clutching to a vision of an all optical future, it was analogous to Galileo arguing that the sun did not revolve around the earth.
JDSU (NASDAQ:JDSU) has made a concerted move away from the optical module business and towards subsystems like ROADMs (reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers) and EDFAs (Erbium-Doped Fiber Amplifiers) . It is even rumored that JDSU has lost future 10GE module contracts at Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) (this is single-sourced, any confirmation welcome) so they may have passed the point of no return. JDSU pushed hard during the panel that the future was indeed all optical, and that they were going to provide the building blocks to do it.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), as I suspected, may be exiting the commodity module business, buy they have tee-ed up a big effort to do pure optical research. The UCSB/Intel announcement was just a small step, even though it received a disproportionate amount of media attention. Kevin Kahn opened my eyes to what Intel is doing outside of the commodity optical products that I used to solely associate them with. This is worth following.
Infinera laid out why O-E-O makes sense and that they have the most efficient solution as a result of their ‘optical chip’.
I remember a meeting with Infinera (Actually called Zepton before a savvy marketing guy changed the name of the company) way back where Drew Perkins laid out an array of optical modules on the conference room table. He pointed at each one, and said that they were way too big with some very colorful language.
The vision at Infinera appears to be the same as it was then. High integration creates high reliability, high port density, and low per port cost.
I think people were mortified to find out that Infinera, the poster boy of Telecosm 2.0, is not an all-optical player This illustrates the depth to which people have gone to really understand what this company is doing, and I realized I didn’t know what sort of electrical switching function resides inside their system. I had fallen under the spell…
The best part of the discussion was the limited debate between the merits of the ROADM and O-E-O. This was a good panel, with excellent participants and should have been allotted more time simply because much time was needed to explain the differences between what Infinera does with optical-electrical-optical (O-E-O) conversion and how ROADMs work. Some carrier input, particularly from a non-Bellco perspective, would help.
This topic will be just as relevant next year and should be revisited.
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