Communication laser market to almost triple by 2012

Sales of telecom and datacom lasers will grow from ~$1 billion this year to $2.9 billion in 2012, according to a new report, published by market research firm CIR (www.cir-inc.com), covering tunable and fixed lasers.

According to CIR analysts, the growth spurt will be due to several factors: Optics continues to push copper out of the network, 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) is the first predominantly optical Ethernet standard, FTTX is bringing optics to the residential access network , and the transition from copper to fiber in storage networks is now all but complete.

Recent financing rounds for Santur and Syntune validate the tunable laser segment, a market that CIR expects to reach $870 million by 2012. The cost of tunable lasers is expected to decline as volumes ramp up and new cost-effective designs based on DBR lasers and integrated modulators make their impact felt.

The first products of silicon photonics-optically active cables aimed at the unwieldy InfiniBand infrastructure-will bring credibility to silicon photonics. Silicon photonics promises long-wavelength transceivers for the same cost as 850-nm optics. In fact, CIR believes that silicon photonics could be the single most important technology in the near term, gradually pushing short-wave optics and multimode fiber into niche oblivion.

Parallel optics will dominate short-reach computing center interconnects as well as 10GBase-LX4 type transponders for 100GbE markets. Several firms are implementing large array-type products. CIR’s report suggests that by as early as 2012 more than 3.4 million lasers will be used to support connections at 100 Gbits/sec and over, with most of this bandwidth being supplied through parallel schemes.

CIR’s report focuses especially on how integrated optics and silicon photonics are on the verge of creating new revenue streams for laser makers.

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