OFC 2018 – Consolidation

Each year, there is at least one announcement at OFC which surprises the industry. In 2016, the announcement was the introduction of Inphi’s ColorZ, while in 2017 it was news of Ciena choosing to license the Wavelogic DSP to module vendors. And yet, OFC2018 delivered a surprise that exceeded both: Lumentum will acquire Oclaro.

Industry consolidation is a subject of speculation for the past decade at OFC. These discussions became circular and tiresome after years of no action.

That changed during OFC 2018 as Lumentum and Oclaro, the market’s second and third largest optical component companies, announced their merger. Unlike the mergers in the 2000s, which were examples of the strong consuming the weak, this agreement was more an alliance of choice made by management bent on realizing all of those benefits so many had preached of over the years. The move sparked excitement and new conversations at OFC, and highlights and analysis follow:

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Investor Call – Piper Jaffray Optical Event

Andrew Schmitt was the featured speaker on an investor call hosted by Troy Jensen of Piper Jaffray on February 21st. Forty-four participants listened in and posed their questions as Andrew gave his perspective on the latest events in the optical component and equipment market.

Topics during the call included:

  • Anticipated impact of China’s MIIT plan on existing component suppliers
  • The divergence in Chinese equipment revenue and supply chain
  • The market outlook for ROADMs in 2018
  • The 400G+ Coherent DSP and component outlook
  • The evolution of the CFP2-ACO and DCO market
  • Analysis of equipment companies outsourcing DSPs
  • Update on Inphi’s ColorZ, modulator driver, and PAM-4 business
  • Infinera’s market opportunity with the CX2 and ICE4 based products
  • North American CapEx in 2018 and optical equipment forecast
  • Ciena’s 400G market monopoly in 2018

Active Insight clients can access a summary of the key takeaways, a written transcript, an audio replay, and participate in Q&A.

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Inphi 3Q17 Conference Call

Inphi mentioned adjusting internal forecasts for 100G port growth during its third-quarter earnings conference call with investors on October 31, 2017.

Ford Tamer – CEO

We’ve taken down the number based on the latest Cignal AI and company estimate forecast. So you could see that we now have a number for 2017 of 301k ports growing to 376k ports by 2018. So we’ve tempered those numbers down, but as you could see, we still are positive on over 20% growth from 2017 to 2018.

Full transcript at Seeking Alpha.

Analysis: 1H17 Cloud and Colo Spending Slowdown

Cignal AI’s recent Optical Customer Markets Report discovered an unexpected weakness in 2017 optical transport equipment spending from cloud & colo operators (see Cignal AI Reports Unexpected Drop in Cloud and Colo Spending). This surprising trend was then further supported by public comments later made by Juniper and Applied Optoelectronics, prompting us to examine the situation in greater detail.

This detailed brief includes:

  • Cloud & colo spending as defined by Cignal AI
  • Analysis of quarterly spending trends by cloud & colo operators
  • Recent shifts in market share among equipment vendors to this market
  • Quantitative analysis of underlying causes of this slowing, including price compression and displacement by IPoDWDM via Inphi, Acacia, and Oclaro components

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ECOC2017 – Coherent 100G+

ECOC is one of the most significant conferences in optical networking worldwide. This year’s conference was held in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the event was well attended by the engineering community, as the conference trends heavy on technology and light on marketing. We at Cignal AI like ECOC because it gives us another opportunity to converse with the folks directly responsible for charting the technical roadmap of upcoming optical systems.

In this first of several ECOC briefs, we share some of our findings on the changing trends in coherent optics. Subsequent briefs will explore China and client optics.

  • CFP2-ACO Outlook – The ACO market is going away; what this means
  • Silicon Photonics – Searching for the killer app
  • Inphi ColorZ – Moving downmarket to grow volume
  • 400G ZR – Examining investment risk and rewards
  • Acacia CFP2-DCO – Market Feedback

Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.

Inphi samples 16nm Polaris™ PAM4 DSP Product Family with Integrated EML and VCSEL Driver

Inphi announces samples of its latest Polaris PAM-4 DSP for inside the data center which. This is the PAM-4 engine that powers optical modules such as 200G QSFP28s and 400G CFP8s running FR8 signaling. The chip also integrates both single and multi-mode laser drivers, further reducing cost.

“Cloud operators are looking for every possible edge to reduce the cost of short reach optical connectivity. Inphi and its Polaris platform play a critical role in cutting the cost of 100G and making 400G an economically viable technology,” said Andrew Schmitt, founder and lead analyst at Cignal AI.

1H17 Optical Applications Report

Our 1H17 edition of the Optical Hardware Applications report has been released.

The report contains details on the following areas:

  • Compact Modular hardware market share and forecasts
  • 100G+ Coherent port shipments vendor market share
  • 100G, 200G, and 400G+ Coherent and Direct Detect port shipments and forecast
  • Advanced Packet-OTN Switching market share and forecasts

This report includes significant updates and enhancements:

  • Initiated a coherent 400G port shipment forecast, estimating demand for 400G wavelengths in CY17 and beyond, including the upcoming 400G ZR pluggable format. The forecast also quantifies the emergence of coherent 100G in volume at the edge of the optical network. A more detailed written analysis sharing the assumptions behind this forecast will be published in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we welcome feedback on the quantitative forecast.
  • Renamed DCI Hardware category to “Compact Modular”. DCI is an application, not a hardware category, and these compact, modular chassis are being used in several applications, including DCI. As Incumbent, Cable MSO, and Wholesale operators evaluate and deploy these systems it is important that this category name better reflect the defining characteristics of these systems. A listing of the specific systems in this category can be found here.
  • Added 1H17 market share results for Compact Modular and Advanced Packet-OTN Switching equipment hardware. Also updated coherent port shipment market share to include vendor results for 1H17.
  • Compact Modular hardware forecast increased in 2017 and 2018 as result of discussions with vendors. This is a bottoms-up change with the risk that multiple vendors are double-counting the same opportunities.
  • Historical 100G+ Port Shipments adjusted to align with actual customer shipment data.

Current subscribers can download Excel and PowerPoint files.

Report Details Excel PowerPoint

OFC 2017 – Compact DCI Equipment

In our final OFC 2017 report we discuss new product announcements on purpose-built datacenter hardware and components, and share our thoughts on market developments.

  • Evolution of the compact DCI market, including recently published 4Q16 market share and adoption by new customers
  • New products and solutions, investigating announcements by Nokia, Fujitsu, and Juniper
  • Direct detect – one year later, the appearance of Ranovus, and network operator of the technology’s long term prospects

Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.

OFC 2017 – Coherent Technology

400G Coherent and Beyond
Ciena had a blockbuster announcement at OFC 2017, but there was plenty of other interesting news to feast on. Cignal AI’s key takeaways concerning coherent WDM include:

  • The outlook for 200G and CFP2-ACO volumes in 2017
  • Opinions on Ciena WaveLogic Ai Licensing
  • The roadmap review for 400G/600G & Acacia Pico
  • Sizing the risk and reward for the 400G ZR market

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OFC 2017 – Inside the Datacenter

100G and the Road to 400G

The transition to 100G network speeds inside the data center is underway at every major hyperscale operator simultaneously, creating major industry bottlenecks. Despite QSFP28 being supply constrained, component and equipment suppliers are also trying to align on the next generation format for 400G operation. Cignal AI’s key takeaways from OFC 2017 with regard to data center optics include:

  • Updates on QSFP28 supply and demand
  • Alternative facts on both sides of the Octal SFP (OSFP) vs. QSFP DD debate
  • Impact of QSFP28 on CFP/CFP2 client demand
  • 400G CFP8 and 200G QSFP observations and outlook

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Investor Call – OFC 2017 Takeaways

Andrew Schmitt provided key OFC 2017 takeaways during an investor call hosted by Troy Jensen of Piper Jaffray. Sixty-seven investors participated. Topics of interest included:

  • Impact of Ciena’s Wavelogic AI DSP Licensing
  • Outlook for Coherent Port Shipments in China During 2017
  • Market Outlook for CFP2-ACO/DCO and QSFP28 Markets
  • Potential Vertical Integration by Intel or InPhi
  • Timing of Metro Coherent and ROADM deployment in China
  • Chinese SARFT Capex Guidance
  • Roadmap for 400G and 600G Coherent
  • Observations on Infinera, Ciena, Acacia, Oclaro, and Neophotonics

Following is a summary of the key takeaways, as well as a full transcript of the discussion. Cignal AI clients can also listen to an audio replay.

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Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.

Inphi Coherent TIAs Surpass 25 Billion Successful Field Hours

Inphi is the market share leader for coherent driver and receiver electronics and wanted to highlight exactly how much of their product is in the field.

“Network operators are very sensitive to quality and reliability as network uptime is a metric that has a direct impact on their bottom line,” said Andrew Schmitt, Lead Analyst at Cignal AI. “Inphi’s coherent amplifiers are used industry wide in almost all 100G and 200G long-haul, metro, and DCI networks. The company continues to invest in leading edge technology and will lead the transition to 400G coherent as well.”

Inphi: Industry’s First 64G Quad Linear Modulator Driver

Inphi announces a companion component to its 400G TIA, and now offers electronics to interface the latest 400G+ DSPs with coherent optics.

Single wavelength coherent 400G+ technology needs electronics that can support 16/64QAM modulation and challenging symbol rates of up to 64GBaud,” said Andrew Schmitt, founder and lead analyst at Cignal AI. “Inphi’s IN6417SZ is a critical component for enabling 400G coherent roadmaps at key customers who are focused on bringing next-generation of 400/600G line cards and pluggable modules to market as quickly as possible.

4Q16 Optical Hardware Forecast

On February 27th, Cignal AI issued full optical equipment market share analysis for 4th quarter 2016 (4Q16). This second report, issued on March 9th, extends our analysis and summarizes forecasts and outlooks for the industry through 2021.

Subscribers to the Optical Hardware Report are able to download an excel file with actual results through 4Q16 along with detailed, up-to-date forecasts. A compilation of our latest analysis is also available in both web format as well as .pdf.

Excel PDF


There were some minor changes to our forecast during 4Q16:

  • Updated LH v Metro WDM mix in Japan to adjust for 100G rollout
  • Adjusted SLTE forecast to moderate declines in later years
  • Slight changes to EMEA and NA for 2017 based on CY16 results.

A detailed discussion of our near and long term forecasts follows.

Requires Optical Hardware subscription.

LIGHTWAVE: Inphi to buy coherent DSP developer ClariPhy for $275M

Lightwave quotes Andrew Schmitt in its article regarding the acquisition of Clariphy Communications by Inphi:

Andrew Schmitt, founder and lead analyst at Cignal AI, believes that Inphi may not be comprehensive enough to take full advantage of its pending new assets. In particular, combining optical components (which Inphi currently doesn’t have) with the ClariPhy DSPs to create modules and other subsystems would make a stronger play, Schmitt believes.

“Strategically, I think it makes sense for someone like Inphi,” Schmitt said on a Piper Jaffrey analyst call earlier this year in regard to a potential Inphi/ClariPhy tie up. “I would argue that it makes more sense for an optical component company to take that approach – someone like an Oclaro, an NEL Photonics, or a Finisar. Because then they can, in essence, deploy the same model that Acacia has deployed. That is, being able to closely couple all the optics and the DSP to sell a full subsystem. Whereas Inphi can’t really do that.”

Investor Call – China 2017, CFP2-ACO, Coherent DSPs

Andrew Schmitt gave an update on the optical equipment and component market during an investor call hosted by Troy Jensen of Piper Jaffray on Tuesday, October 4. Sixty-eight investors participated. An extended Q&A session followed Andrew’s presentation, and topics of interest included:

  • China 100G port volume trends for 2H16 and 2017
  • Huawei’s upcoming 100G technology decisions and supplier purchasing shifts
  • CFP2-ACO shipments and the component & equipment supply chain for this product
  • Coherent DSP R&D developments and supplier updates
  • Updates on direct-detect 100G and PAM-4 development
  • Observations on Infinera, Ciena, Acacia, Inphi, and Clariphy and discussion of potential M&A activity

Following is a summary of the key takeaways, as well as a full transcript of the discussion. Cignal AI clients can also listen to an audio replay.

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ECOC 2016 Notes and Observations

Andrew Schmitt presented at the ECOC (European Conference for Optical Communications) in Dusseldorf, Germany during the week of Sept. 19. No time was wasted during the trip as Andrew fit in well over 30 scheduled meetings with component and equipment suppliers and end users of optical hardware.

The meetings were very productive and we gained new insight in several areas:

  • Huawei’s plans to transition to 100G CFP-DCO technology and what will follow
  • Updates on vendor selection and R&D in coherent DSPs
  • Details on the ongoing ramp in CFP2-ACO and the development of this new market
  • Overview of 400G market development
  • More insight into Nokia’s China Mobile optical design win

Requires Optical Active Insight subscription.

Inphi Announces Quad Linear Driver

Inphi bet big and bet early on linear drivers, rather than limiting drivers, for coherent applications. As a result they dominate this market. It announced a product refresh at ECOC 2016.

“Inphi is a leading supplier of drivers for optical modulators and is a critical supplier of technology to reduce the cost of metro coherent and non-coherent interfaces,” said Andrew Schmitt, founder and lead analyst at Cignal AI. “Devices such as the IN3217SZ enable the higher densities and lower cost solutions that are needed in coherent 100G and 200G applications today.”


ADVA released excellent quarterly results on Thursday, July 21th and its optical business is hitting on all cylinders right now. The company expects to sustain its current revenue surge through the coming quarter as it continues to ship an impressive amount of 100G ports.

ADVA’s results illustrate the pivotal impact that Cloud and Colo customers exercise over quarter to quarter revenue. These customers don’t follow the more steady and predictable buying patterns of traditional incumbent wholesale carriers.

Furthermore, ADVA’s robust results are an exceptional leading indicator for Acacia, which will report shortly on August 11th.

Cignal AI analyzes ADVA’s Cloudconnect, the ripple effect on Acacia, Inphi ColorZ, and offers our commentary on ADVA’s British Telecom business.
Requires Optical Hardware subscription.

Investor Call – China, CFP2-ACO, ROADMs & More

Andrew Schmitt created some excitement when he spoke about optical component and equipment market trends on a Piper Jaffray investor call on April 22. 83 investor clients were on the line, and some insightful questions were posed to Andrew as he gave his observations on a wide range of topics. The following is a full transcript of that discussion.
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