Fiberoptics Industry Report

Dec. 1, 2003
Corning, IBM to partner on optical interconnects; AFOP to buy Taiwanese photonics business; Albis relaunches OptoSpeed photodiodes; MORE...

Corning, IBM to partner on optical interconnects

Corning (Corning, NY) and IBM (Yorktown Heights, NY) will collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration on a $20 million project to develop high-speed, optically switched interconnects for supercomputers. According to Corning, the program will accelerate the development of high-speed optical technology aimed at increasing network bandwidth by 50 times while reducing the cost of supercomputers, all of which are attributes required to surpass electronic interconnect technologies.

Under the 2 1/2-year contract, Corning's Science & Technology Division will develop a prototype of an optically switched interconnect. The company said U.S. government agencies and firms in the information-technologies industry anticipate a point at which scaling supercomputer systems to thousands of nodes with interconnect bandwidth of tens of Gbit/s per node will require the use of optically switched interconnects.

IBM Research Labs in the United States and Switzerland will provide the system's electronic control and monitoring circuitry and will assist with the integration of the optical interconnect modules provided by Corning, delivering a prototype system incorporating the optically switched interconnect within 30 months.

AFOP to buy Taiwanese photonics business

Alliance Fiber Optic Products (AFOP; Sunnyvale, CA), a supplier of fiberoptic components, subsystems, and integrated modules for the optical-network equipment market, signed a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Ritek's Photonics Division, located in Hsin Chu Industrial Park, Taiwan.

Under terms of the agreement, AFOP will substantially acquire all assets of Ritek's Photonics business, which includes planar-lightwave-circuit (PLC) technologies, fiber-array (FAU) technologies, active devices, and DWDM and related technologies, and assume certain liabilities in exchange for up to 1.7 million shares of AFOP common stock. AFOP may utilize Ritek's photonics manufacturing facility in Taiwan for a period of two years at no additional cost. In addition, Ritek will provide AFOP $1.5 million as part of this agreement.

Albis relaunches OptoSpeed photodiodes

Following its acquisition of the photodiode business of former Opto Speed, Albis Optelectronics (Ruschlikon, Switzerland) has relaunched a product portfolio of photodiode chips and receiver subassemblies. Albis will focus on the development of highly advanced photodiode products for 10-Gbit/s short-reach data communication.

Albis was founded in August 2003 by Markus Blaser (former product-line manager, photodiodes, of Opto Speed) and Joerg Wieland (president and CEO of Helix). The company took over all assets associated with the photodiode business line of the former Opto Speed, including intellectual property, key employees, equipment, and clean-room facilities in Rüschlikon. In this way, the supply of high-quality photodiode chips is secured, say company representatives.

Arroyo to merge with Lightcross

Arroyo Optics (Santa Monica, CA), a manufacturer of flexible-wavelength management solutions for telecommunications equipment, and Lightcross (Monterey Park, CA), a manufacturer of silicon-based optical products for telecommunications equipment, have agreed to merge. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but under terms of the agreement, the surviving entity will be Arroyo Optics. The company will comprise around 50 employees and technologies and products developed with more than $50 million in combined R&D capital provided by private equity investors. Lightcross CEO Robert Barron will become CEO, chairman, and president of the new company.

Also in the news . . .

Fitel USA (Norcross, GA), the parent company of fiberoptic supplier OFS, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Alcatel charging infringement of U.S. Patent 5,905,838, which relates to optical fibers adapted for operation in metro systems utilizing dual bands, including wavelength-division-multiplexing capabilities in each band, and to wavelength-division-multiplexing optical communications systems that utilize this type of optical fiber. . . . Xponent Photonics (Monrovia, CA) has closed its Series C financing with $18 million in new capital. Investors include El Dorado Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners, and Walden International. The financing will be used to fund product development, sales, and marketing of Xponent's surface-mount photonics products. . . . Fabrinet (San Francisco, CA), an electronics manufacturing-services company specializing in optical, mechanical, and electronic components, modules, and subassemblies, will manufacture external-cavity lasers for K2 Optronics (Sunnyvale, CA), a provider of lasers for telecommunications, cable television, sensing, and test and measurement.

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