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The Future of Silicon Photonics: Not So Fast? Insights From 100G Ethernet LAN Transceivers

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3 Author(s)
Fuchs, E.R.H. ; Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA, USA ; Kirchain, R.E. ; Shan Liu

While many articles have touted Si photonics' potential to bring the bandwidth and power-efficiency benefits of photonics to mainstream semiconductor applications, rigorous economic analysis has been lacking. This paper leverages extensive data from the major electronic and photonic semiconductor manufacturers to model the competitiveness of two Si photonic designs against InP-based alternatives for a 1310 nm, 100 gigabit ethernet LAN transceiver. Our results suggest that silicon photonics may struggle finding low-volume opportunities for early-stage market adoption for the very reasons that silicon photonics is attractive-the existing capital-intensive infrastructure in Si-CMOS. Contrary to popular belief, we demonstrate that InP platforms can, depending on the yields achieved in each technology, have equal to or lower production costs than silicon for all expected production volumes. Silicon photonics does hold great potential to be cost competitive in markets with annual sales volumes above 900 000, including servers, computing, and mobile devices.

Published in:

Lightwave Technology, Journal of  (Volume:29 ,  Issue: 15 )

Date of Publication:

Aug.1, 2011

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