CIR believes that there are two emerging opportunities that have emerged as the result of increasingly noticeable vulnerability of fiber optics.  These are (1) Improved intrusion detection and (2) quantum encryption.

read more

Smart Optical Components in the Data Center Market

The growth of data centers is a constant theme in the trade press.  Typically, this growth is presented as an encouraging trend, creating demand for a variety of systems and components. But for data center managers hyperscale data centers are mostly cost centers; necessary evils that require cost reduction and cost analysis, and do not produce profits for their owners.

All this has consequences for optical component manufacturers.  These implications have both positive and negative implications for the component sector.  On the one hand, the cost sensitivity of data centers points towards the need for plain vanilla standardized components that are hard to distinguish in the marketplace.  On the other hand – and somewhat paradoxically – CIR believes that it also indicates a new and potentially profitable direction for components companies in the form of what we shall call “smart optical components.”

read more

Thunderbolt 3:  Mismatch and Opportunity

After the relative failures of the Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 cabling systems, Thunderbolt 3 appears set for success as the “one cable to rule them all.”  Thunderbolt 3 is billed as a user-friendly cabling system, robust enough to support everything from high-definition video to high-res audio to personal storage networking.  It operates at 40 Gbps, twice the data rate of earlier Thunderbolts. Thunderbolt 3 also supports the most popular consumer electronics interfaces including the USB Type-C connector, USB 3.1, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0. As an aside, some insiders are now talking about an 80 Gbps Thunderbolt 4 at some time in the not-too-distant future.

The proof that Thunderbolt 3 is catching on is that many important laptop OEMs are now adopting Thunderbolt 3.  In the past the Thunderbolt reality has been an Intel-Apple one.  Thunderbolt was born at Intel at the end of the last decade, but despite Intel’s early high hopes, the only big computer/consumer electronics firm to have implemented the earlier versions of Thunderbolt was Apple.  Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 did not see much (or indeed any) love at the Windows/PC companies.  But this has changed with the advent of Thunderbolt 3.  Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo began to show real interested in Thunderbolt in 2015 and all have high-profile Thunderbolt 3 capable laptop models on the market today.

Meanwhile, Apple has gradually strategically positioned Thunderbolt to be its key interface.  In some Apple products, the Thunderbolt port is the only port in the box.

read more

Market Opportunities for Active Optical Cables at 100 Gbps and Above

Active optical cable (AOC) suppliers are spreading their wings into video and consumer electronics markets, but most will remain focused on the data center – especially the HPC environment – for years to come.  In CIR’s opinion, AOC suppliers have good reasons to be optimistic in their pursuit of dollars from the data center. Higher data rates continue to lead managers to install more fiber. Multicore CPUs and many-core GPUs (graphics processing units) make the boundaries between HPC and more conventional forms of computing become fuzzier. 

read more

AOC Markets Beyond the Data Center

There can be little doubt that most of the strategic focus of the AOC manufacturers will continue to be on the data-center market for the next few years.  Here they will find a relatively mature market and a fairly clear path for further penetration of the market.  Thus we expect to see a growing range of AOCs equipped with the appropriate IB, Ethernet, and Fibre Channel connectors. However, the market for AOC sales outside of the data center is looking increasingly attractive for a number of reasons.

read more

Optics and Electronics:  Together Forever

In 1990s fantasies of the all-optical network, electronics played a minimal role.  Today it seems that the higher bandwidth demands go the more high-performance silicon is actually needed.

read more

Outstanding Questions About 400G Transport Deployment

Carriers worldwide are beginning to outgrow 100G transport networks and are taking the first tentative steps towards 400G backbones. CIR believes these ultra-fast networks will create major new revenue opportunities for optical components firms, silicon chipmakers and equipment companies alike. This new businesswill occur as 400G transport moves out of today's trial phase and 400G production networks are deployed. This shift is unlikely to happen in a big way for a few more years, but the foundations for success in the 400G space are being established now.

read more

Four Strategies for Pursuing Optical Interconnects

Over the next five years chip companies will experience an “interconnect bottleneck” that will cause them to create alternatives to current metal/electrical interconnects. The most likely technology direction will be optical, creating new opportunities for several different kinds of companies. For chipmakers, optical interconnect represents enabling technology for next-generation chips. Hence, Intel and IBM are already actively involved in optical interconnect development. For optical component companies, optical interconnect at the chip level promises an addressable market of billions of units.

CIR research indicates four strategies for firms seeking to take advantage of this new strategic direction in the semiconductor industry.

read more

Character of Chip-Related Optical Interconnection:  Players, Products and Opportunities

When CIR published a report on the optical interconnect market in 2010, the goal of the report at the time was to provide a full analysis of the entire optical interconnect business.  In this year’s CIR analysis we are covering the market in two reports, focusing primarily on interconnects in the chip-to-chip and on-chip sector in this volume (Volume II).  In the previously published volume (Volume I), we covered the rack-based and board-to-board part of the optical interconnect market.

read more

Big Data and the Future of Optical Interconnection

This research note is based on CIR’s new report, “Revenue Opportunities for Optical Interconnects: Market and Technology Forecast – 2013-2020. Vol. I Board-to-Board and Rack-Based”

CIR’s latest forecast for sales of optical interconnection devices used at the rack level and for board-to-board interconnection remains bullish. We are anticipating revenues doubling from $1.1 million to $2.2 million between 2013 and 2018. Several factors are leading to this growth.

read more

Take a moment to sign up on the CIR website to be notified of new reports, news and articles. close

We will not sell/share your name with a 3rd party.

Contact Information:


2025 Library Avenue, Suite 402, Crozet, VA 22932






Purchasing questions

Please contact CIR during normal business hours of 8:30-5:30 East Coast time (US).  You can also fill out this contact form at any time and we will follow up with you promptly.