SAN JOSE, Calif. — Mellanox Technologies said it will ship 100Gbit/s networking systems and components using silicon photonics late next year or in early 2015. The Infiniband specialist will compete with Cisco Systems, Intel, and the startups Luxtera and OneChip in a race to field the technology to make fast, dense switches and interconnects practical.
Carriers and datacenters are hungry for 100G links, but current optics technologies are too expensive, large, and hot for widespread use. Analysts say silicon photonics promise a tenfold cut in costs and rise in density, as well as a fivefold reduction in power. All the products will use four 25G serial lanes. Mellanox's offering will be the first using the 25G enhanced data rate Infiniband standard. The company's high-end products use the 14G FDR standard today.
In May, Mellanox acquired Kotura for its 100G photonic integrated circuits. In June, it bought IPtronics for chips embedded in connectors and cables used in high-speed links.
"With these two companies, we can drive 100G and make it as simple as 10G," Gilad Shainer, vice president of marketing for Mellanox, told us. By the end of this year, Mellanox expects to have a more exact date for the launch. "We are pretty much done with 100G designs and already started work on 200G products for release in 2016-2017."
Cisco is sampling 100G modules -- but not systems using them -- based on technology acquired with the startup Lightwire using the 100GBASE-LR4 standard. Cisco said in January that its parts may include 2.5-D stacks.
This fall, Intel is expected to sample 100G silicon photonics based on technology it has been developing in its labs for many years. Intel first discussed such plans in January.
The devices will be used in datacenters to link top-of-rack switches with computer racks beneath them. They will also be used in gear for carrier core networks.
"My sense is that [server] market does not need 100G until 2016-2017," Jag Bolaria, a senior analyst at the Linley Group in Mountain View, Calif., told us. By that time, PCI Express Gen 4 links may provide another alternative.