While they are all working on more high-speed copper solutions like the one Tyco showed for 25G and beyond at SC10, I beleive they also see the writing on the wall. While they won’t admit it, I think they know that beyond 100G copper cable interconnects may have FINALLY reached the end of their useful life. At 40G and 100G, for example, there is still no twisted-pair solution and the direct-attach copper can only reach about 7m reliably.
It has been interesting watching the choices these traditional connector companies have made:
- Amphenol: It never exited the optical interconnect business, but left the transceiver products to Avago, Finisar, JDSU and others until recently. It has a stronghold on the short-reach copper direct-attach market so has inroads at customers for its AOCs and modules.
- FCI: Exited the optics business entirely for a few years but then started again from scratch and subsequently purchased MergeOptics in February 2010. MergeOptics is what was left of Infineon Technologies and still has strong technical abilities in short-reach products. It also has the building blocks to provide all-optical interconnects all the way from the chip (see my previous posts on MergeOptics). They can provide both AOCs and transceiver modules so have the ability to cover all high-speed markets in InfiniBand, Ethernet and Fibre Channel.
- Molex: Purchased Luxtera’s AOC business recently. So while FCI and Tyco are stressing short-wavelength technologies, Molex has turned to custom long-wavelength ones. Luxtera’s technology is based on 1490nm devices, which really doesn’t matter if you’re purchasing an AOC, but will matter if you want transceiver modules. According to company representatives, they will eventually get back into supplying transceiver modules, but there has been no evidence of this as of yet. Perhaps the possession of Luxtera AOCs will prompt this.
- Tyco Electronics: Tyco exited the transceiver business in the early 2000’s, but still had a very active fiber-optic interconnect business – especially for premise wiring (AMP NETCONNECT). It acquired Zarlink Semiconductor’s optical products group in May 2010. Zarlink is on the forefront of parallel-optics technology and was one of the first to introduce AOCs. It does not appear that Tyco intends to supply optical transceiver modules again.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.