Optical data center to drive silicon photonics, says Yole

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By eeNews Europe

The market for silicon photonics devices will grow from US$25 million in 2013 to about $50 million in 2017, according to market research company Yole Developpement. However, at that point the market, which includes high-performance computing and datacenters with rack to rack optical communications, telecom and other applications such as sensors in medical and consumer fields, is expected to double in a year and grow rapidly to more than $700 million in 2024.

The silicon photonics market to 2024. Source: Yole Developpement.

Optical communications can provide more bandwidth at less power consumption than electronic communications over copper and that benefit, already manifest in long-distance telecommunications, is moving back to the PCB and inter-chip level for data centers.

The reason for this is likely to be the introduction of optical communications by chip manufacturers such as Intel for optical data centers in response to requirements from Google, Facebook and others. The non-datacom/telecom sectors will only have a small portion of the market for the foreseeable future, Yole said.

The silicon photonics supply chain. Source: Yole Developpement, June 2014.

"We’re at a turning point where the market is increasing again and Intel, which is very active in this field, could contribute to a quick ramp up of silicon photonics," said Claire Troadec, an analyst of semiconductor manufacturing at Yole and one of the co-authors of a report on the topic.



Established and startup companies set to ramp silicon photonic production. Source: Yole Developpement.

"Silicon photonics is a business opportunity for different player types: OSATs, MEMS firms, semiconductors companies, etc., because it involves different challenges for packaging, optical alignment and electronics integration. The need for very diverse technologies creates a need for different packaging, micromachining and manufacturing approaches," said Troadec.

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