Silicon photonics: to SOI and beyond!

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Silicon photonics’ platform maturity and rapidly developing ecosystem will drive a $5.4B datacom market in 2027, with new applications in multiple markets.


  • Silicon photonics comprises more than 20% of the optical transceiver market for datacom by value. This percentage is forecast to grow to about 30% in 2027.
  • The silicon photonics’ dies market is expected to be worth close to US$1 billion in 2027.
  • Intel is strengthening its market leadership with 58% market share in units in 2021, followed by Cisco and other smaller companies (Marvell/Inphi, Sicoya, Acacia, and others) that step by step are increasing their markets.

Today, the primary market for silicon photonics is optical communication. Silicon photonics will be central in datacenter evolution in the short-term for 100G (already well implemented in datacenters), and then 400G and 800G pluggables. It will also be an enabling technology for disaggregation of datacenters and a possible future CPO approach. Silicon photonics is increasingly used for 500 m reach DR-standard connections but is also used increasingly with coherent technology in datacom applications. There is also increasing demand for 400ZR standard technology.

Titre du visuel

june 2021

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Thematic(s) :

In this context, Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group, has developed comprehensive and in-depth photonic technologies expertise for over 20 years. Throughout the year, analysts investigate this industry and deliver their analyses in an extensive collection of technology and market reports, monitors, and teardowns… More information.

Yole Intelligence offers today a specific focus on the silicon photonics industry with a dedicated report: Silicon Photonics 2022. The aim of this study is to provide insights into market trends, technologies, and players’ activities related to silicon photonics.

Eric Mounier Ph.D., Director of Market Research at Yole Intelligence
We estimate that the market value was US$152 million at the die-level in 2021. In 2027, the market will be close to $1 billion. This growth will be fueled by many markets thanks to growing platform maturity. Medical applications are starting to hit the market, with many startups using silicon integrated optics as a manufacturing platform. Consumer health development continues, with Rockley announcing shipments of its VitalSpexTM biosensing platform in 2022/23. This could pave the way for future integration of silicon photonics-based biosensors in wearables from large OEMs.

Optical interconnects using silicon photonics will enable disaggregated data centers with more power available for HPC and data communications. This approach is pursued by Ayar Labs which is planning its first shipments in 2022. Applications will include HPC and data centers.
Photonic computing, allowing for analog AI computations much faster than today’s digital AI, is being developed and will soon hit the market.

In the automotive domain, more manufacturers are integrating LiDAR in their products. Silicon photonics will enable the realization of compact and affordable FMCW LiDAR and integrated gyroscopes.
A ramp-up in the CPO market is still an open question, but such products will co-exist with pluggable optics in any case. Silicon photonics is the right technology to be the missing link between CPO and pluggable because of its integration capability.

Historically, integrated photonics has been developed on an SOI platform. The goal was to benefit from wafer-scale manufacturing know-how in the CMOS industry and adapt it for photonic chips.
But SOI wafers are expensive, and silicon is not necessarily the best material for all the different photonics functionalities.
From the very start, the integration of InP was one of the most crucial challenges for Intel. The successful development of InP chiplet integration on SOI has been key to Intel’s business success in silicon photonics.
Today, as data rates increase, high-speed modulation on silicon is becoming a bottleneck. Therefore, there are various developments in new materials to overcome the current limitations, including LNO thin films, InP, BTO , polymer and plasmonic materials. For example, Arista has integrated thin film LNO in modulators in an 800G transceiver prototype for the OFC 2022 conference. Beyond LNO, Riber is developing BTO, and Lightwave Logic is developing polymers.
And as integrated optics moves toward increased functionality, the definition of silicon photonics will expand to include the integration of other materials. However, a CMOS manufacturing environment remains necessary for the cost benefit.


Yole Group is proud to collaborate with the China International Optoelectronic Expo (CIOE) to organize the highly exciting Forum on Optical Transceivers and Silicon Photonics. It will take place on September 8, 2022, in Shenzhen, alongside the 24th CIOE.

Don’t miss this opportunity to exchange with Yole Intelligence’s photonics team and key players of the industry, register here!

Yole Intelligence’s photonics team invites you to follow the silicon photonics industry on Stay tuned!

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