Board-level optical interconnect sales to hit $5.6 billion by 2022: CIR

Thanks to the emergence of a new class of MSA-compliant optical boards for router and switch backbones, sales of board-level optical interconnect products should reach $5.6 billion, predicts CIR. The market research firm pegs the 2017 market at $696 million in its newly released "Opportunities in Board-Level Optical Interconnects: Optics-Enabled Circuit Boards, Optical Engines and Optical Backplanes" report.

Thanks to the emergence of a new class of MSA-compliant optical boards for router and switch backbones, sales of board-level optical interconnect products should reach $5.6 billion, predicts CIR. The market research firm pegs the 2017 market at $696 million in its newly released "Opportunities in Board-Level Optical Interconnects: Optics-Enabled Circuit Boards, Optical Engines and Optical Backplanes" report.

CIR notes that copper interconnects have begun to struggle with the capacity requirements of servers, routers, and switches. While current alternatives include what the market research company termed "semi-proprietary optical links and optical engines" as well as active optical cables, CIR sees opportunities for standardized optical boards as part of a larger trend toward embedded optics.

Along these lines, CIR notes the development of optical engines for the data center market; these devices will become the biggest addressable segment of the board-level optical interconnect market, the company predicts. However, CIR states that the lack of standards has held back growth in optical engine use. If such standards emerge, CIR expects the market for optical engines could reach $1.2 billion by 2022.

Meanwhile, CIR believes use of optical backplanes will spread from supercomputing applications to routers and switches. For this reason, the market research firm expects this segment to be worth $864 million by 2022.

Of course, cost remains an issue; reducing these costs will remain a primary focus of technology development, CIR says. The firm predicts that glass and polymer fiber approaches will make way for the use of waveguides, polymer optics, and free space optics.

CIR expects such current players as IBM, Cisco, Juniper, and Oracle (which inherited Sun Microsystems' technology) to be well placed as the market expands. However, the company also expects startups and other new players to enter the field.

CIR's new report attempts to identify and quantify the opportunities in board-level optical interconnect and provide both technology assessment and 10-year market forecasts of AOCs, optical engines, optical backplanes, optical motherboards, proprietary optical board-level links, and other optical boards. Breakouts cover servers vs. routers/switches, board-to-board vs. on-board, data rate, types of media, and geographical location of addressable market.

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