Board-Level Optical Interconnects to Generate $5.6 billion by 2022 Says new CIR Report

Charlottesville, Virginia: In its just-released report, “Opportunities in Board-Level Optical Interconnects: Optics-Enabled Circuit Boards, Optical Engines and Optical Backplanes”, industry analyst firm CIR says that “board-level” optical interconnects will reach $5.6 billion by 2022 compared with $696 million in 2017. Much of this growth will come from an entirely new class of MSA-compliant optical boards that will provide massive backbone capacity for routers and switches compared to the conventional electrical backplanes and motherboards of today.

For more details on this report see:

About the report:

The huge amount of data flowing internally in servers, routers and switches can no longer be handled by copper interconnects.  This demand is currently being met by semi-proprietary optical links and optical engines and some active optical cable solutions. CIR now sees opportunities here for standardized optical boards as part of a larger trend towards embedded optics.

This report is designed to identify and quantify these opportunities and provides both technology assessment and 10-year market forecasts of AOCs, optical engines, optical backplanes, optical motherboards, proprietary optical board-level links and other optical boards.  Breakouts in this forecast are by servers vs. routers/switches, board-to-board vs. on-board, data rate, types of media, and geographical location of addressable market.

The report also offers an assessment of the product/market strategies of key optical firms active in this area. Suppliers covered in the report include Amphenol FCI, Ericsson, Finisar, Foxconn, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Luxtera, Mellanox, Molex, Oracle, Reflex Photonics and Samtec.
From the Report:

  • Optical engines meet data center needs in terms of data rates and small footprint and will be the biggest addressable sector of the board-level optical interconnect market. CIR believes that if the industry can arrive at standards for optical engines then the market can potentially reach $1.2 billion in sales by 2022.  The absence of standards has caused held back the market and caused major optical components firms to exit the optical engine space or avoid it altogether.
  • Optical backplanes have been used for supercomputing applications for many years.  However, they are finding a new market in routers and switches.  By 2022 revenues from optical backplanes will have reached $864 Million.
  • The current generation of optical interconnect products are very expensive compared to their electrical equivalents.  To reduce costs, a considerable amount of technological development remains to be done.  Most early products are based on glass or polymer fiber media.  Future products will reduce costs and increase interconnect densities by using waveguides, polymer optics and free space optics
  • The mainstreaming of the optical board concept, will initially give advantage to firms that have been dabbling in this space for years.  These firms include IBM, Cisco, Juniper, and Oracle (the inheritor of Sun Microsystems’ technology). In the next few years startups will emerge challenge these giants with optical boards based on new materials, free-space optics and innovative embedded optics/laser designs.

About CIR:
Communications Industry Researchers (CIR) has published hype-free industry analysis for the optical networking industry for more than 25 years.   Our reports on short-reach optical communications contain the most authoritative market forecast and technology assessment available.

Visit  for a full listing of CIR’s reports and other services.

Robert Nolan
Tel: 804-938-0030

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