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Si Photonics: beyond the tipping point!

Extracted from: Silicon photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits report from Yole Développement, 2019 – Intel Silicon Photonic 100G PSM4 QFSP28 Transceiver from System Plus Consulting, 2019.

The total market for PIC(1)-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.




“Si photonics will have the highest CAGR(2) of 44% in volume”, announces Eric Mounier, PhD, Fellow Analyst at Yole. “It will grow from around US$455 million in 2018, equating to 1.3 million units, to around US$4 billion in 2024, equating to 23.5 million units.”
DCI(3) from metro to long haul/subsea is the largest market, with coherent telecom and sensors being a minute part. 5G is coming and could involve large volumes in the future as well. Beyond DCI, other applications are looming. For example, the following companies plan to use their PIC platform for LiDAR applications: Intel, Rockley Photonics, SiLC, Blackmore, and probably many more.

The Si photonic market currently only involves a few players: Luxtera/Cisco, Intel, Acacia and InPhi. Founded in 2001, Luxtera, now part of Cisco, is the historical pioneer, with almost 2M QSFP(4) transceivers shipped since starting volume production in 2009. And Intel introduced a silicon photonics QSFP transceiver that supports 100G communications in 2016. The company now ships a million units of the product per year into data centers. Intel’s 400G products are expected to enter volume production in the second half of 2019.




Moreover, a lot of new startups are being created and more foundries are involved from the IC and MEMS industries. Last but not least, there is always a big R&D effort worldwide with many industrial contracts in North America, Europe and Japan. So this market is on its way to industrial maturity and very large volumes.
“In only a few years, Intel has become the number two supplier for silicon photonics-based optical transceivers,”, comments Sylvain Hallereau, Expert Analyst, at System Plus Consulting. “Intel has succeeded because it put a lot of effort into the bottleneck, which was integrating the laser chip through InP chiplet bonding followed by post processing.”




Intel’s transceiver contains two separate blocks, each with several dies. The transmitter integrates several InP lasers and a CMOS die chiplets through bonding on the main silicon die in flip-chip configuration. On the main silicon die a Mach-Zehnder modulator encodes signals. Other components focus or isolate the signals. Data are processed using a four-channel 25G optical CDR(5) component from MACOM. The receiver function is performed by four germanium photo-diode dies and a TIA(6) circuit. The Ge photo-diodes are manufactured on a dedicated Silicon-on-Insulator substrate. A fiber-optical coupler with focusing lens connects the photodiode die with the fiber optic… System Plus Consulting is offering a deep technical analysis of Intel’s Transceiver in its latest report, Intel Silicon Photonic 100G PSM4 QFSP28 Transceiver.


A full description of both reports, Silicon photonics and photonic integrated Circuits and- Intel Silicon Photonic 100G PSM4 QFSP28 Transceiver is available on, photonics & optoelectronic section.
In addition, Yole Group of Companies proposes a dedicated conference, titled 1st Executive Forum on Silicon Photonics. Yole’s team is proud to collaborate with the China International Optoelectronic Expo (CIOE) to organize an all-new Executive Forum on Silicon Photonics. It takes place on September 4, 2019 in Shenzhen, alongside the 21th CIOE.
“Silicon photonics is an exciting technology, leveraging semiconductor manufacturing infrastructure to combine different photonic functionalities on the same chip,” comments Eric Mounier from Yole Développement. Make sure to attend this powerful conference & register today on!


(1) PIC : Photonic Integrated Circuit
(2) CAGR : Compound Annual Growth Rate
(3) DCI : Data Center Interconnect
(4) QSFP : Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable
(5) CDR : Clock and Data Recovery
(6) TIA : Trans Impedance Amplifier



Silicon Photonics & Photonic Integrated Circuits

Silicon photonics: beyond the tipping point! – Produced by Yole Développement.



Companies cited in the report:
Acacia, Accelink, Almae, Amazon, AOI, apm, at&t, Axalume, AXT, Ayar Labs, Broadcom, Broadex, CeliO, Ciena, Cisco, Effect Photonics, Elenio, Emcore, Ericsson, Facebook, Fiberhome, ficontec, Finisar, Fujitsu, GCS, Gigalight, GlobalFoundries and more …



Intel Silicon Photonic 100G PSM4 QFSP28 Transceiver

Deep analysis of the first silicon photonic die with Intel’s unique approach for laser integration, the outcome of 15 years of development, along with the main optoelectronic components in the connector – Produced by System Plus Consulting.

This report is exhaustive analysis of the main components of the Intel 100G PSM4 connector, including a full analysis of the silicon photonic die, the TIA circuit, the Mach-Zehnder driver circuit, the MACOM circuit and the germanium photodiode along with a cost analysis and price estimate. It also describes the two fiber optic couplers, focusing lens and the isolator and estimates their price. We also compare the product against Luxtera’s silicon photonic circuit…



• Sylvain Hallereau is in charge of costing analyses for IC, power and MEMS at System Plus Consulting. He has more than 10 years of experience in power device manufacturing cost analysis and has studied a wide range of technologies.
• Jean-Louis Malinge is co-author of the report Silicon Photonics & Photonic Integrated Circuits with Eric Mounier. Jean-Louis Malinge is an accomplished business management executive with extensive experience as a General Manager and CEO in France and the United States. He also serves on numerous Boards of Directors. He has formulated successful strategies to position or reposition numerous businesses, has led numerous acquisition projects, and also managed the creation of a successful joint-venture in Asia.
Jean-Louis is currently a Venture Partner with Arch Venture Partners. Jean-Louis is currently Director with the board of EGIDE Group, POET Technologies and Cailabs. He is also Managing Director of YADAIS, a telecommunications and photonics consulting firm.
Jean-Louis was President and CEO of Kotura from 2004–2013, when Kotura was acquired by Mellanox. A global leader in silicon photonics, Kotura designs, manufactures, and markets CMOS optical components that are deployed throughout the communications network.
Formerly, Jean-Louis served as Vice President – Optical Networking Products for Corning, Inc. His other prior experience includes serving as Technology Director with Amphenol and Thompson CSF in France.
Jean-Louis’ academic credentials include an Executive M.B.A. from MIT Sloan School in Boston, Massachusetts. He also holds an engineering degree from the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées in Rennes, France.
With almost 20 years of experience in MEMS, Sensors and Photonics applications, markets, and technology analyses, Eric Mounier, PhD provides deep industry insight into current and future trends. As a Fellow Analyst, Technology & Market, MEMS & Photonics, in the Photonics, Sensing & Display division, he is a daily contributor to the development of MEMS and Photonics activities at Yole Développement (Yole), with a large collection of market and technology reports as well as multiple custom consulting projects: business strategy, identification of investments or acquisition targets, due diligences (buy/sell side), market and technology analysis, cost modelling, technology scouting, etc.
Previously, Eric Mounier held R&D and Marketing positions at CEA Leti (France). He has spoken in numerous international conferences and has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers.
Eric has a Semiconductor Engineering Degree and a Ph.-D in Optoelectronics from the National Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble (France).
• Nicolas Radufe is in charge of physical analysis at System Plus Consulting. He has a deep knowledge in chemical and physical analyses. He previously worked in microelectronics R&D for CEA/LETI in Grenoble and for STMicroelectronics in Crolles.


System Plus Consulting specializes in the cost analysis of electronics, from semiconductor devices to electronic systems. Created more than 20 years ago, System Plus Consulting has developed a complete range of services, costing tools and reports to deliver in-depth production cost studies and estimate the objective selling price of a product. System Plus Consulting engineers are experts in:
Integrated Circuits – Power Devices & Modules – MEMS & Sensors – Photonics – LED – Imaging – Display – Packaging – Electronic Boards & Systems.
Through hundreds of analyses performed each year, System Plus Consulting offers deep added-value reports to help its customers understand their production processes and determine production costs. Based on System Plus Consulting’s results, manufacturers are able to compare their production costs to those of competitors. System Plus Consulting is a sister company of Yole Développement.
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Founded in 1998, Yole Développement (Yole) has grown to become a group of companies providing marketing, technology and strategy consulting, media and corporate finance services, reverse engineering and reverse costing services and well as IP and patent analysis. With a strong focus on emerging applications using silicon and/or micro manufacturing, the Yole group of companies has expanded to include more than 80 collaborators worldwide covering MEMS & Sensors – Imaging – Medical Technologies – Compound Semiconductors – RF Electronics – Solid State Lighting – Displays – Photonics – Power Electronics – Batteries & Energy Management – Advanced Packaging – Semiconductor Manufacturing – Software & Computing – Memory and more…

The “More than Moore” market research, technology and strategy consulting company Yole Développement, along with its partners System Plus Consulting, PISEO and KnowMade, support industrial companies, investors and R&D organizations worldwide to help them understand markets and follow technology trends to grow their business. . For more information, visit and follow Yole on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Yole Développement, System Plus Consulting, Knowmade, PISEO and Blumorpho are part of Yole Group of Companies.
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