MILTON, England Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.) and Cisco Systems Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) have each invested about $10 million for minority stakes in Bookham Technology Ltd., a pioneer in the use of silicon for the fabrication of optical and opto-electronic components. Intel and Cisco are each thought to have received a little over 5 percent of Bookham in return for their investments.
Bookham has developed a technology called ASOC, an approach analogous to the design and manufacture of electronic ASICs, which can be used to form optical circuits on silicon chips. The company has been manufacturing optical ICs at a purpose-built wafer fab here since May.
"This investment from Intel reinforces our belief that ASOC is the future of optical networking," said Andrew Rickman, president and chief executive officer of Bookham (Milton, England). "At a time when the semiconductor industry is experiencing significant set-backs, it is reassuring to see that major players like Intel and Cisco see a bright future for Bookham Technology.
"Last year we raised about the same amount from numerous sources to help build our manufacturing capability," Rickman said. "This further $20 million will speed the introduction of products to be made in the factory."
At present Bookham is manufacturing optical components for use in access networks and in dense wavelength division multiplexing. Rickman said new product introductions would be in the same area but offering greater integration.
Rickman said there were no particular product plans with Intel or Cisco that he could discuss.
"Our general strategy is that photonics will merge with mainstream electronics. There's already great demand for opto in the backplanes of equipment such as routers and switches. In the longer term the concept of photonics and electronics merged on the chip is something we firmly believe in."
He also said, "The investment makes sense for Intel as the more use of the Internet is encouraged the more computers will be sold."
He added, "Cisco has a very public strategy on optical networks. They are saying that if you can deliver enough bandwidth you can bypass a lot of ATM and Sonet stuff and deliver Internet Protocol over fiber."