The Embedded Optics Market: COBO and its Alternatives – 2017-2026

Report # CIR-EOM-COBO-0517
Published Jul 05, 2017

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CIR believes embedded optics is creating a major business opportunity for optical components, modules and communications chips companies. Embedded optics has been available as a niche technology for many years, but the recent success of the Consortium for on-Board Optics (COBO) has transported embedded optics into the limelight and has made embedded optics a key focus of firms expecting to build their businesses around next-generation optics.

It is tempting to treat COBO as just another MSA.  However, CIR believes that something more important is going on here.  As we see it, COBO is more similar to the old ATM Forum; an organization that took data communications and telecommunications in a whole new direction. We have been told for more than 15 years that an essential for high-speed modules is that they be pluggable, while embedded optics teaches completely the opposite doctrine.  Embedded optics also imply an entirely new direction for switch design – one in which the optics and electronics are positioned in close proximity.

This is the first industry analysis that looks at the market opportunities that the COBO standards will bring in their wake.  It includes:

  • An assessment of the likely role of the COBO standards in creating a healthy market for embedded optics going forward.  Will other organizations challenge COBO or will pluggable optics find a way to move to much higher data rates without embedded optics?  To what degree will integrated optics play a role in the transition in optical datacom that COBO says it will address
  • An analysis of networking supply and value chain in the embedded optics space.  We discuss which firms in the switch and router business are likely to be early adopters of embedded optics and why. We also examine how these OEMs can profitably message the advantages of embedded optics to data center managers, telecom companies and other end users.
  • Based on such analysis, we build a roadmap for embedded optics and discuss alternative technology and market scenarios that will impact revenue generation from embedded optics over the coming decade.  This roadmap will consider the pattern of adoption for embedded optics by equipment makers as embedded optics technology gradually transitions from the largest routers all the way down to the server level.
  • A detailed ten-year forecast of the primary products and markets that will be impacted by the COBO standards and embedded optics more generally.  The forecast is both in terms of unit shipments and revenues, with breakouts by the type of embedded optics, underlying technologies, equipment in which embedded optics is used, and the type of ultimate end users for this equipment
  • A discussion of how important firms in the transceiver space and IC space are likely to adapt their product/market strategies to the embedded optics future.  We will also look at how those firms plan to drive embedded optics into smaller data centers and then into telecom.  Several important module firms have already said how they plan to leverage the COBO standards and more will follow

This report is designed for marketing, business development and product managers in components, modules and related businesses.  It will help them understand the technological potential of embedded optics, how the COBO story will be sold to customers and how components firms will build their strategies for the COBO/embedded era – the “post-pluggable era” – as some people are calling it.  The report will also be useful to professional investors in the optical networking sector who want to better understand what embedded optics will mean to their investments.

Executive Summary

  • E.1 Two Scenarios for the Future of Embedded Optics
  • E.1.1 Market Needs and Uncertainties
  • E.2 Market Evolution of Embedded Optics Products: COBO, MSA or de facto Standard
  • E.3 Summary of Opportunities for Components Makers and Others: Lasers, Electronics, and Cooling
  • E.4 Patterns of Adoption of Embedded Optics by Switch and Router Vendors
  • E.4.1 Embedded Optics and OCP
  • E.4.2 When will Embedded Optics Impact the Server Market?
  • E.5 Key Firms Shaping the Embedded Optics Market
  • E.6 Summary of Ten-year Forecasts of the Embedded Optics Market
Chapter One: Introduction
  • 1.1 Background to this Report
  • 1.1.1 Embedded Optics Rises
  • 1.1.2 Embedded Optics: Still Many Outstanding Issues
  • 1.2 Scope and Objectives
  • 1.3 Methodology of this Report
  • 1.4 Plan of this Report
Chapter Two: COBO and other Embedded Optics: Technologies and Products
  • 2.1 Classifications of Embedded Optics and on-Board Interconnect Products
  • 2.2 SNAP12
  • 2.3 Optical Engines
  • 2.3.1 Optical Engine Technology and Embedded Optics
  • 2.3.2 Optical Engine Suppliers and Products
  • 2.4 Optical PCBs: Towards Tighter Integration between PCB and Optics
  • 2.4.1 Roadmap for Optical PCBs
  • 2.4.2 Optical Backplanes
  • 2.5 How COBO will Create the Market for Embedded Optics
  • 2.5.1 COBO Attracts Publicity and Members: Analysis of COB Membership
  • 2.5.2 Current Goals of COBO
  • 2.5.3 Relevance of COBO to Telecom Applications
  • 2.6 The Role of Optical Integration
  • 2.6.1 A Future for Embedded Optics with Co-packaging?
  • 2.7 VITA Standards
  • 2.8 Survival Strategies for Pluggables: OSFP and QSFP-DD
  • 2.8.1 OSFP
  • 2.8.2 QSFP-DD
  • 2.9 Key Points from this Chapter
Chapter Three: Markets for Embedded Optics Products: A Ten-Year Forecast
  • 3.1 Ten-Year Forecasts of Boards that Might Adopt Optical
  • Interconnection Technology: Forecasting Technology
  • 3.1.1 Inherent Limits of Data Collection
  • 3.2 Forecasting Market Penetrations
  • 3.2.1 Modeling Board-to-Board Optical Interconnection
  • 3.2.2 Modeling On-Board Optical Interconnection
  • 3.3 Ten-Year Forecast of Board-to-Board Embedded Optics by Type of Product
  • 3.3.1 Board-to-Board Optical Interconnects for Data Center Servers
  • 3.3.2 Board-to-Board Embedded Optics for Switches and Routers
  • 3.4 Ten-Year Forecast of On-Board Embedded Optics by Type of Product
  • 3.4.1 On-Board Embedded Optics for Data Center Servers
  • 3.4.2 On-Board Embedded Optics for Switches and Routers
  • 3.5 Pricing of Embedded Optics
  • 3.5. 1 Pricing Methodologies by Type of Embedded Optics Product
  • 3.5.2 Uncertainties about Optical Interconnect Product Pricing
  • 3.6 Ten-Year Forecast of SNAP-12 Modules in the Embedded Optics Market
  • 3.7 Ten-Year Forecast of Optical Engines in the Embedded Optics Market
  • 3.8 Ten-Year Forecast of Next-Generation Embedded Optics Market
Chapter Four: Key Firms that will Shape the Embedded Optics Market
  • 4.1 Structure of the Embedded Optics Supply Sector
  • 4.2 Amphenol (United States)
  • 4.2.1 FCI Leap On-Board Transceiver (OBT)
  • 4.2.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.3 Elenion Technologies (Israel)
  • 4.3.1 Elenion’s “Optical Engines”
  • 4.3.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.4 Finisar (United States)
  • 4.4.1 Finisar’s Board Mounted Optical Assemblies (BOA)
  • 4.4.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.5 Furukawa Electric (Japan)
  • 4.5.1 A Tbps Optical Engine
  • 4.5.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.6 Gigalight (China)
  • 4.6.1 Gigalight’s Second Generation Optical Engine
  • 4.6.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.7 Luxtera (United States)
  • 4.7.1 The 200 G OptoPHY
  • 4.7.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.8 Mellanox (Israel)
  • 4.8.1 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.9 Molex (United States)
  • 4.9.1 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.10 Ranovus (Canada)
  • 4.10.1 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s take
  • 4.11 Reflex Photonics
  • 4.11.1 Reflex’s Embedded Optical Modules
  • 4.11.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s View
  • 4.12 Samtec
  • 4.12.1 Samtec, FireFly and the COBO Connector
  • 4.12.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s View
  • 4.13 ST Microelectronics (Switzerland) 75
  • 4.13.1 Building a Silicon Photonics Optical Engine
  • 4.13.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
  • 4.14 TE Connectivity
  • 4.14.1 Embedded Optics Strategy
  • 4.14.2 Likely Future in Embedded Optics – CIR’s Take
Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this ReportAbout the Author List of Exhibits
  • Exhibit E-1: Embedded Optics: A High- and Low-Growth Market Scenario
  • Exhibit E-2: Embedded Optics Products – The Story So Far
  • Exhibit E-3: The Future of Embedded Optics – Four Possibilities
  • Exhibit E-4: Summary of Non-Module Opportunities in the Embedded Optics Space
  • Exhibit E-5: Embedded Optics Markets ($ Millions)
  • Exhibit 1-1: Varieties of Embedded Optics
  • Exhibit 1-2: Market Introduction of Embedded Optics: Issues and Resolutions
  • Exhibit 2-1: Selected Optical Engine Firms and Products
  • Exhibit 2-2: COBO Membership
  • Exhibit 2-3: Opportunities for Optical Integration in High-Speed Networks
  • Exhibit 3-1: Ten-Year Forecast of Circuit Board Shipments (Millions)
  • Exhibit 3-2: Ten-Year Forecast of Board-to-Board Interconnects Shipments
  • Exhibit 3-3: Ten-Year Forecast of On-Board Interconnects Shipments (Millions)
  • Exhibit 3-4: Ten-Year Forecast of Board-to-Board Optical Interconnection
  • Using Embedded Optics: Boards for Data Center Servers
  • Exhibit 3-5: Ten-Year Forecast of Board-to-Board Optical Interconnection Using Embedded Optics: Switches and Routers
  • Exhibit 3-6: Ten-Year Forecast of On-Board Optical Interconnection Using Embedded Optics: Boards for Data Center Servers
  • Exhibit 3-7: Ten-Year Forecast of On-Board Optical Interconnection Using Embedded Optics: Switches and Routers
  • Exhibit 3-8: Ten-Year Forecast of Optical Interconnection Pricing ($)
  • Exhibit 3-9: Ten-Year Forecast of SNAP-12 Embedded Optics Market
  • Exhibit 3-10: Ten-Year Forecast of the Optical Engine Market
  • Exhibit 3-11: Ten-Year Forecast of Proprietary Next-Generation Optical Boards
  • Exhibit 4-1: Amphenol in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-2: Elenion Technologies in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-3: Finisar in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-4: Furukawa Electric in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-5: Gigalight in the Embedded Optics Market
  • Exhibit 4-6: Luxtera in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-7: Mellanox in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-8: Molex in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-9: Ranovus in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-10: Reflex Photonics in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-11: Samtec in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-12: ST Microelectronics in the Embedded Optics Business
  • Exhibit 4-13: TE Connectivity in the Embedded Optics Business

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