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Luxtera sells optical cable business to Molex

11 Jan 2011

Pioneering silicon photonics company will now focus on chip development, as Molex acquires its active cable and transceiver product lines.

Fiber-optic connector specialist Molex has acquired the active optical cable business developed in recent years by the silicon photonics firm Luxtera.

Luxtera, which started up in 2001 and raised nearly $30 million in equity financing in June 2009, is to transfer all aspects of its existing and future active optical cable business to Molex, including its existing “Blazar” and 40 Gb/s optical transceiver products. Molex will now manufacture and market those products worldwide for high-speed connectivity applications including data centers and supercomputing.

The deal will give Molex an immediate, high-performance addition to its existing family of interconnect products, and will leave Luxtera free to focus on the development of silicon photonics technology. Future product planning will become a joint effort by the two firms, as they target connectivity rates of 50 Gb/s and beyond.

Luxtera CEO Greg Young said of the partnership: “This agreement is a milestone validating the growing commercial significance of silicon photonics.”

“Luxtera will continue to accelerate its growth by focusing on our core silicon photonics technology platform, while at the same time expanding the reach of our technology to global markets and customers. Partnering with Molex will help us to bring the benefits of silicon photonics to customers worldwide.”

Photonics integration
Doug Busch, VP of Molex’s Global Fiber-Optics Product Group, said of the strategic move: “[The] combination of our interconnect expertise with Luxtera’s long-reach, low-power, low-bit error rate optical solutions will enable the highest level of photonics integration and performance available.”

Luxtera is regarded as one of the leading exponents of silicon photonics, and was the first company to deliver any significant level of integration based on the technology in a commercial form.

According to Jean-Marc Fedeli from CEA Leti, another center of excellence in the emerging field, the recent high-profile announcement of photonic and electronic integration in silicon by IBM researchers was comparable to that already achieved by Luxtera. Both Luxtera’s and IBM’s approaches deal with all of the necessary photonic elements, aside from the key fact that it does not include a laser element.

Although silicon photonics remains at a very early commercial stage, the high-profile involvement of both IBM and Intel, which last year demonstrated a 50 Gb/s link based on silicon devices and hybrid silicon/indium phosphide laser diodes, has added significant momentum to the field in recent months.

The deal between Molex and Luxtera also includes an exclusive agreement for Luxtera to develop and supply advanced chipsets for future Molex products, based on silicon photonics devices and used in four-channel 25 Gb/s links for 100 Gb/s Ethernet and InfiniBand commercial deployments.

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