Silicon photonics ready for lift off: LightCounting

June 11, 2020
The market research firm predicts that nearly half of the optical transceivers, active optical cables (AOCs), and embedded optical modules (EOMs) produced in 2025 will contain some sort of silicon photonics component.

Silicon photonics is about to become the optical integration force its backers have long predicted, according to LightCounting. The market research firm predicts in its most recent Integrated Optical Devices Report that nearly half of the optical transceivers, active optical cables (AOCs), and embedded optical modules (EOMs) produced in 2025 will contain some sort of silicon photonics component.

Silicon photonics long has been touted as a promising pathway to integrated photonics. It leverages CMOS-based semiconductor processes, thus promising to piggyback on semiconductor production volumes as a means of cost reduction. While no one has yet discovered a way to create light within silicon, silicon photonics still offers a better alternative than InP and GaAs as an integration platform, proponents assert.

The truth of those assertions will be borne out in the market over the next five years, LightCounting believes. As the chart above illustrates, the company’s analysts expect silicon photonics enabled optical transceivers, AOCs and EOMs will see their share of the total market increase from 14% in 2018-2019 to 45% by 2025. Greater confidence in silicon photonics as well as growth in applications that play to the approach’s strengths, such as co-packaged semiconductors and optics, will drive much of this share expansion. Nearer term, LightCounting expects 400ZR/ZR+ optical transceivers to be a winning application for silicon photonics (see, for example, the video “400G Module Update with Acacia Communications”).

LightCounting’s Integrated Optical Devices Report analyzes the impact of various integration strategies on the market for optical transceivers and related components in 2010-2019. It presents a forecast for shipments and sales of discrete and integrated products based on InP, GaAs, and silicon photonics technologies for 2020–2025. The forecast is segmented by main applications, including Ethernet, WDM, AOCs, and EOMs, and a few others. The report also covers the supply chain for silicon photonics products and profiles many of the startup companies developing integrated optical devices. A forecast for the adoption of co-packaged optics in 2023-2028 is also included.

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