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Silicon photonics has huge market potential, if the current constraints that affect cost can be leveraged
Silicon photonics has tremendous potential as a new technology, blending optical technology with low cost CMOS semiconductor processing. Silicon photonics is a disruptive technology that enables a new breed of monolithic opto-electronic devices.
The goal is to deliver economic optical connectivity everywhere, from network level to intra-system level, and eventually to chip-to-chip.
Today, except for the light source, all other optical functions(modulators, detection, waveguides, intelligence ...) can be embedded wafer-level at the SOI substrate.
Silicon photonics addresses different kind of devices such as:
Moreover, passive optical elements (such as array wave guides, optical filters, couplers, splitters, polarizer arrays) can be created with silicon photonics technologies and integrated with active elements.
In the report, we distinguish between Silicon photonics, CMOS photonics, Hybrid silicon photonics, and III-V integrated photonics. Silicon photonics has been restrained to R&D labs for a long time, but now the first Silicon photonics products have shipped and an industrial infrastructure has been set up step-by-step.
Figure 1: silicon photonics application TAM
Although silicon photonics can address a wide range of applications, very few companies are actually shipping products.
Data communications is the big market and will dwarf all other silicon photonics applications. Indeed, major datacom protocols are all moving to high-speed signaling and passing 10Gbps where reach and signal integrity issues are surfacing for both copper and optical technologies. There is a clear trend to surpass 25Gb in datacom protocols and this is where Si photonics will make sense.
Silicon photonics still faces big industrial and technical challenges:
Figure 2: Si photonics market forecast
For several years now, the silicon photonics projects have been under the umbrella of large-scale R&D projects to set up roadmaps. Today, MPW services foundries are opening and more industrial foundry activities are set up. Generic technologies and generic production platforms are needed to achieve low cost/high volume. As the future lays in the separation of design and fabrication, this industry is looking for an electronics-like foundry model. The mapping of the players involved in silicon photonics already shows an important number of foundry services.
Figure 3: Si photonics players mapping
Although the industry is trying to use as much as possible of the existing CMOS processes, 3D ICs technologies will contribute to the Si photonics, especially wafer bonding and 3D interconnects.
Although the market will grow by a factor of 3 in 5 years, business could explode after 2020 as inter and intra-chip communications could make this market grow by a factor of 10!
This report gives an overview of the silicon photonics markets, technologies and players. We also include a financial analysis that shows the latest VC funds.
Altera, Altis, AML, Apple, Aurrion, Avago, BAE Systems, Caliopia, CEA Leti, Chiral Photonics, Cisco, ColorChip, Cyoptics/InPlane, DAS Photonics, Effect Photonics, Enablence, ePIXfab, EuroPIC, EVGroup, Fraunhofer HHI, Freescale, Ghent University, IHP Microelectronics, Fujitsu, Genalyte, Helios, HP Labs, IBM, IME (A*STAR), IMEC, Infinera, Intel, IPKISS, JePPIX, Kotura, Cisco/LightWire, LioniX, Luxtera, MIT, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Molex, NeoPhotonics, Northrop Grumman, NTT, Nvidia, Oclaro, OneChip Photonics, OPSIS SYSTEM, Oracle, PECST, Photline, Sandia, Skorpios Technologies, STM, Sun, SUSS MicroTec, TEEM Photonics, TI, TSMC, U2t photonics, UCSB, Stanford University, VLC Photonics, Xilinx, XIO Photonics.
Dr. Eric Mounier, cofounder of Yole Développement, is in charge of market analysis for MEMS, equipment & material. He is Chief Editor of MEMSTrends & Micronews magazines. Before joining Yole Développement, Eric worked as a market analyst at CEA Leti. He has a PhD in microelectronics from the INPG in Grenoble.
Brad Smith, has 30 years of industry experience in both optical and semiconductors, as well as in marketing, business development and market research. He was president and cofounder of Nexgen sold to and LuxSonar Semiconductors sold to Cirrus Logic. His market research experience comes from LightCounting, RHK, Gartner and Dataquest.
Antoine Bonnabel, Market Analyst, works as market analyst for MEMS devices and technologies at Yole Développement. He holds a M.Sc. in microelectronics and microsystems from Grenoble Institute of Technologies and a M.Sc in marketing and business management from Grenoble Graduate School of Business.