Spring 2014 IAB & Research Review
March 5 - 6

Dr. Eric Mounier
Yole Developpement

Silicon Photonics, a Market Perspective

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.
The talk will review the potential applications, markets and challenges for Silicon Photonics. Although silicon photonics can address a wide range of applications, very few companies are actually shipping products. We believe 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.
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.
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.