Si Photonics: beyond the tipping point!

The total market for PIC-based transceivers will grow from around US$4 billion in 2018 to around US$19 billion in 2024, from around 30 million units to around 160 million units. These are the impressive figures announces by Yole Développement (Yole) in its latest PICs report released last week, Silicon Photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits 2019. In collaboration with Jean-Louis Malinge, a world-renowned telecommunication & photonics expert, Yole’s analysts propose today a comprehensive understanding of the PIC applications and related technologies as well as the technical and market challenges with a special focus on Si photonics.

The largest volume demand for PICs is for data center interconnects (or DCIs) in data and telecom networks, with new applications coming such as 5G wireless technology, automotive or medical sensors. InP is the most used but Si photonics is growing faster. Hyperscale networking companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (GAFAMs) are today the driving force for the deployment of Si photonics technology.

Under this dynamic context, the market research and strategy consulting company Yole and its partner System Plus Consulting with its dedicated report focused on Intel’s Si photonic transceivers invite you to dive in the photonic ICs sector.

PICs are built from many different materials, on custom manufacturing platforms. These include silicon (Si), indium phosphide (InP), silica (SiO2), lithium niobate (LiNbO3), silicon nitride (SiN), polymer or glass. PICs aim to bring advantages of the semiconductor world, in particular wafer scale manufacturing, to photonics. The motivations for PICs are numerous, including smaller photonic dies, higher data rates, lower power consumption, lower cost per bit of data and better reliability compared to legacy optics. PICs are progressively replacing vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) for increasing bandwidth and distance in Datacom networks.

PICs are used for high data rate transceivers (100G and above) in coherent or non-coherent mode. In the future, PICs will be needed when close integration of electronics and photonics will be needed.

Si photonics, which is a category of PIC, is leveraging semiconductor manufacturing infrastructure to combine different photonic functionalities on a same chip. In the future, Si photonics will integrate other PIC materials, as Si uses mature manufacturing platforms but will also use other materials when performance is better. Options include InP for lasing, germanium (Ge) for photo detection, LiNbO3 for modulation and glass for interconnect… More info.

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