Intel Sheds Light on Future of Silicon in Photonics

by: Steven Towns

Excerpt from our One Page Annotated Wall Street Journal Summary (receive it by email every morning by signing up here):

Intel Claims a Breakthrough In Creating Lasers on Chips

  • Summary: Researchers from Intel and the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara have "addressed the last major hurdle" in creating lasers on computer chips says Mario Paniccia, the director of Intel's photonics technology lab. The researchers figured out how to add a light-generating capability to silicon using a so-called "hybrid approach." Paniccia thinks it could be five years before the technology is commercialized but it's seen as bringing significant cost savings in the fastest of data communications. For instance, comparable lasers currently cost $50 to hundreds of dollars each but could drop to as little as a $1 a laser. Intel is targeting silicon lasers for use in communications between components inside computers and within computer data centers. Connection speeds could double or quadruple from today's 8-10 gigabits per second and could travel over distances of tens of feet versus today's max of 18 inches.
  • Comment on related stocks/ETFs: JDS Uniphase's (JDSU) CTO is quoted in the article saying that switching to silicon is "really important." Providers of data services are seen benefiting by becoming able to offer much more robust services. Andrew Schmitt of Nyquist Capital gives his take on the winners and losers in optical communications. In the silicon segment, Schmitt says, "The problem is these businesses are buried in large companies ... and it's difficult to get investing leverage on this trend." It seems the same can be said of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). Also see Schmitt on Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) optical business, which he says has a corrosive impact on the profitability of the overall optical module business. Bookham (BKHM), EMCORE Corp (NASDAQ:EMKR), Finisar (NASDAQ:FNSR), and Oplink Communications (NASDAQ:OPLK) are some of the players in the optical components segment. Find out why Tom Jacobs of Complete Growth Investor calls Oplink the best optical equipment play but still wrote a "sell" report on it and sold his position. Investopedia Advisor provides an outlook for JDS Uniphase. See the latest conference call transcripts of Intel and JDS Uniphase.

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