The PIC movement is gaining momentum in the marketplace
After a very successful first conference on PIC technologies in 2016, I again have the honour of chairing the PIC International Conference in 2017. The timing could not be better - the PIC movement is accelerating into new and innovative products, and the technology infrastructure to support PIC design, modeling, fabrication, testing, and qualification is being built-out quickly and efficiently. The 2nd PIC conference brings together the best companies and senior engineers and decision makers of this PIC movement that looks to grow significantly in numbers, interest, and impact over the first conference in 2016.
Why fasten our seat-belts one may wonder when looking at the title of this introduction: it is because huge applications like Web 2.0 datacentres are now implementing PICs into their infrastructure, and their expectation of volumes exceed most suppliers' production capabilities! The price the Web 2.0 datacentres want to purchase PICs at is still an issue that is being negotiated and debated, and will continue to do so, but the need, utilization, and benefit of integrating photonic components onto a semiconductor chip platform is growing very quickly. This issue amongst others will certainly be addressed at the conference as it represents a huge manufacturing opportunity for PICs. It is a very long way since the first integrated photonics chips were designed in the 1980s, and now we are beginning to see not only InP as the incumbent technology platform, but silicon photonics, as well as polymer photonics solutions enter the market place. All of these technology platforms will be discussed at the conference.
As an industry, we are beginning to break through the technology impediments and barriers to enable widespread use like Web 2.0, but more importantly, new applications such as in the IoT (Internet of Things) environment and the bio-medical world. This conference sets the scene for the next decade and will present how PIC technology will penetrate many applications, products, and technologies over and above Web 2.0 datacentres and fibre communications in general.
PICs are important now as discrete technologies (lasers, detectors, multipliers, modulators) are becoming individually too large for the tiny boxes (fibre transceivers) that are being used in applications such as Web 2.0 datacentres, optical networks, optical switches, routers. The pain points, for example with Web 2.0 datacentres (which are on an explosive trajectory), can be simplified to four metrics:
- Datacentres are larger (need to connect longer distances) - multimode fibre is giving way to single mode fibre
- Datacentres are faster (need to switch and route traffic more quickly) - 10 Gbps is giving way to 40 Gbps, 100 Gbps, and now moving towards 400 Gbps and 1 Tbps
- Datacentres are becoming denser (more traffic means boxes need to be smaller) - QSFP is now giving way to microQSFP, and will eventually settle on tiny boxes like SFP for 1 Tbps. Faceplates are denser also, and the conventional designs are giving way to OBO (On-board optics) where fibres are fed through the face plates and connected to the optics in the center of the printed circuit board.
- Datacentres need to be greener (power consumption needs to be reigned in) - 5 W/port needs to drop to 1 W/port and with integration 0.1 W/port while performance is increased 2 to 10 fold.
How does this affect business?
Simple: growth of traffic is driving datacentre need, and the components inside the datacentres are not keeping up with demand. The drive to miniaturisation means integrated photonics cannot be avoided now. It's on the roadmaps, and will be implemented commercially. PICs are here to stay and sales will explode over the decade. Those who have knowledge in PICs will benefit from this trend (unless we all stop using the internet - which is doubtful). The internet is becoming a utility, and the PIC technology will allow the internet to become more efficient for its stakeholders.
The key PIC themes at the conference include:
- Incumbent InP PICs - their status and where they are heading
- New technology PICs such as SiP (Silicon photonics) - it's status and where it is heading
- Even newer technology PICs such as PP (Polymer photonics) - it's status and where it is heading
- PICs in fibre communications (such as Web 2.0 datacentres), telecommunications, metro, access, PON, Cloud access
- PICs in new markets such as IoT, medical photonics, bio-medical engineering, instrumentation
- PIC infrastructure - modeling, simulation, design (and the associated tool kits)
- Laser coupling to the PIC;
- Heterogeneous integration (III-V to silicon);
- Monolithic integration (InP);
- The role of a photonics foundry for PICs;
- Should we consider even newer technologies for PICS? Perhaps polymer photonics, nitrides, oxides, germanium?
At the conference, the complete supply chain is being represented from big data users with datacentres to system companies driving next generation optical networks to sub-system companies designing transceiver boxes that house PICs, to a rich portfolio of innovative SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) that include venture backed start-ups. This is complemented by companies that are building a foundry infrastructure for PIC technology using an open access, horizontal model approach with tool and software development. Furthermore, the conference will hear from the large government funded consortiums for PICs that are emerging around the world. These consortiums represent significant investment by governments to bring PIC technology quickly to the marketplace, and in doing so, generate jobs in their respective countries.
Lastly, and not least, I have been personally involved with PICs for over 30 years, and I'm very excited to see the movement mature with many products and broadening applications. This conference is certainly poised to bring anyone up to speed in a technology that is experiencing explosive growth, and will continue to do so over the next decade.
Early Bird Discount tickets all sold out - only 51 delegate tickets left.
PIC International will provide timely, comprehensive coverage of every important sector within the photonic integrated circuits industry.
In 2017, the 2nd conference grows to a new auditorium to welcome more industry leaders and rising stars driving the next generation of photonic integrated circuits.
Key themes include a deep dive into PIC platforms, manufacturing solutions, device deployment in data centres, telecoms and a full update on activity in emerging markets such as life sciences.
Our Early Bird allocation of tickets completely sold out in late 2016 and as such we are expecting PIC International to be a sell-out conference once again. There are only 51 delegate tickets left, places will be limited - so we advise booking early to avoid disappointment.
Only 6 weeks left to book your place.
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