Monday, July 12, 2010

Luxtera’s Contribution to All-Optical Networks

by Lisa Huff

Last week I wrote about Avago’s new miniaturized transmitters and receivers so today I’d like to introduce you to a similar product from privately-held Luxtera. Well known for its CMOS photonics technology, Luxtera actually introduced its OptoPHY transceivers first – in late 2009.

Luxtera took a different approach to its new high-density, optical interconnect solution. It is a transceiver module and is based on LW (1490nm) optics. Just like Avago’s devices, the transceivers use 12-fiber ribbon cables provided by Luxtera, but that’s really were the similarities end. The entire 10G–per-lane module only uses about 800mW compared to Avago's 3W, and they are true transceivers as opposed to separate transmitters and receivers. Luxtera is shipping its device to customers, but have not announced which ones yet.

In addition to the projected low cost for these devices, what should also be noted is that all of the solutions mentioned in the last three entries – Intel’s Light Peak; Avago’s MicroPOD and Luxtera’s OptoPHY – have moved away from the pluggable module product theme to board-mounted devices. This in and of itself may not seem significant until you think about why there were pluggable products to begin with. The original intent was to give OEMs and end users flexibility in design so they could use an electrical, SW optical or LW optical device in a port depending on what length of cable needed to be supported. You could also grow as you needed to – so only populate those ports required at the time of installation and add others when necessary. The need for this flexibility has seemed to have waned in recent years in favor of density, lower cost and lower power consumption. The majority of pluggable ports are now optical ones, so why not just move back to board-mounted products that can achieve the miniaturization, price points and lower power consumption?

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