FAQ: Explaining POET's Innovative Collaboration with ADVA

January 18th, 2023

On January 18, 2023, POET Technologies announced that it had developed multi-engine chip-on-board solutions for ADVA Optical Networking SE (FSE: ADV), a highly regarded German company that is a global leader in creating network equipment and designs.  As of July 15, 2022, ADVA merged with ADTRAN Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN and FSE: QH9) a combination intended to create a global end-to-end fiber networking leader.

Under the agreement, ADVA’s MicroMux product line for 4x100G CWDM4 and 4x100G LR4 will use POET’s multi-engine transmit and receive chips, which are built on POET’s Optical Interposer platform. The MicroMux products are specifically designed to help Internet content providers and cloud service providers develop optimum data center interconnect environments. With POET’s products, the MicroMux™ Quattro becomes the industry’s smallest pluggable transceiver to pack the functionality of four individual 100G LR4 or CWDM4 optical engines into a single module. With the average size of a 100G CWDM4 and 100G LR4 optical engine chiplet being 6mm x 9mm, ADVA’s engineers saw the potential to use multiple chiplets in a single QSFP-DD pluggable form factor. It fits into standard 400G sockets and fans out 4x100GbE, maximizing the use of existing hardware in data centers.

Here are further details of the collaboration between POET and ADVA and what it means for the industry:


How does POET help to enable ADVA’s MicroMux products?

In a given data center, it is now cheaper to deploy 400G ports than 100G ports. That’s because the economies of scale have become less expensive for 400G. The bandwidth of the 1 Rack Unit switch platform can go up from 3.2T to 12.8T with the same face plate density using 32 ports of 400G.

On an absolute basis, there is an increase in cost and power consumption when switching from 100G to 400G ports. However, 400G ports offer significant cost-per-bit and a system-level power consumption savings compared to 100G ports.

Hyperscalers — data center owners or operators whose servers are essential infrastructure for cloud computing — have already started deploying 400G ports to meet the demands for digital connectivity. However, there is a significant amount of legacy 100G ports that will continue in operation, and the challenge for some data centers is how to extend the viability of 100G ports cost-effectively.

With current configurations, a 400G port can be connected to a 100G port either by plugging in a 100G module in a 400G port or by using a 400G to 100G adapter. This results in significant underutilization of switch bandwidth

What ADVA has done for its clients is to create the MicroMux Quattro. This device has individual 100G ports in a QSFP-DD package that plugs into a 400G port. This creates compatibility to the legacy 100G links without the need for retrofits in network design or the use of additional hardware.

The 100G-LR4 optical engines are the industrys first implementation of chip-on-board solutions for the 100G LR4 market.


How will the POET-enabled device benefit ADVA’s end users?

The LR4 solution is unique because it can reach 10 kilometers and it already meets IEEE standards. Eventually, LR4 links interact with major telecommunications networks and that 10-km reach allows it to do so efficiently.

POETs multi-engine chips incorporate multiple instances of industry standard specifications in its 100G-LR4 for 10km applications, and 100G-CWDM4 for 2km applications.

Achieving these standards makes it easier for end users to adopt. More importantly, the performance benefits give ADVA’s customers a unique product with improved cost efficiency.


Why is the small form factor so important?

POET can offer a 20mm-wide chip option that can fit four 100G LR4 optical engines or up to 16 lasers into a 10-km or 2-km fiber solution. If you want that miniature form factor and the benefits in performance and cost savings, you have to use POET’s solution. There’s no other way to fit so many components inside the QSFP-DD packaging.

The hybrid integration of lasers and photodiodes, monolithic integration of optical MUX and DMUX, and the passive alignment of components on the POET Optical Interposer provides a unique and differentiated solution to enable high-density network connectivity.

What ADVA will be receiving for each LR4 product it purchases from POET is an interposer-based optical engine that has two transmit chips per optical engine and one receive chip that contains all four receivers. So, ADVA will be using three POET optical engines (two transmit and one receive) per module.


How long has POET been working with ADVA on creating these innovations?

ADVA is one of the earliest adopters of POET’s Optical Interposer technology.  POET began discussions with ADVA more than two years ago. As with much of the work POET is doing, the company couldn’t announce the relationship because of respect for the client’s desire for confidentiality.

ADVA gave POET the requirement that their team needed the 100G-LR4 and 100G-CWDM4 optical engines to fit into the QSFP-DD form factor. POET’s engineers came up with the designs and had to work on some unique features to make the product even smaller. For example, wire bonds, which are typically on the side of an engine, were pulled to the front to accommodate other components in the tight space. Such unique engineering adjustments were done to make the routing work. POET also checked with ADVAs manufacturing unit to make sure its team could replicate that wire bond design.

POET tested the products in its labs in multiple locations to make sure they could withstand heat and stress extremes that would be greater than any challenge they would face in another company’s lab or in a real-world environment.


In what other ways do POET’s teams in various locations work together to help ADVA?

The engineers in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Shenzhen, China did end-to-end testing for these products. This was a joint effort between those two teams that continues today. POET showed the data to ADVA, whose teams were quite impressed. The engines were assembled at Super Photonics, POET’s joint-venture operation in Xiamen, China, and sent back to ADVA in September. POET made some final tweaks and completed the tapeout in October.

The Singapore team, led by CEO Dr. Suresh Venkatesan and Vice President James Lee, did much of the engineering work to satisfy ADVA’s performance and design goals.


What kind of revenue potential is there in this agreement for POET?

First of all, the savings are considerable for data center operators that use ADVA’s solution. The alternative solutions using a standard QSFP LR4 or CWDM4 in a QSFP-DD port lead to underutilization of available port bandwidth. The ADVA MicroMux Quattro solution enabled by POET’s optical engines, fully utilizes the bandwidth of 400G ports and breaks out into individual 100G links. The inherent investment protection provided by this solution enables phased speed migration within a data center.

POET will send beta samples to ADVA in the first quarter of 2023 and production is expected to begin in the second half of 2023. POET will likely start with hundreds of units per month in 2023 and then ramp up to thousands of units in 2024.

The end users will be companies in the datacom and telecom industries. According to LightCountings April 2022 report, the market opportunity for 100G CWDM4 and LR4 pluggable transceivers will continue to remain strong at an average of $700 million per year from 2023 to 2027. ADVA’s MicroMux Quattro is positioned to secure a share of that market.


Will POET work on other products with ADVA’s team?

The two companies have a good working relationship and discussions regarding additional products are on-going. POET also recently announced that it will be using highly regarded directly modulated lasers (DMLs) from Lumentum and CW lasers from Broadcom, which makes Optical Interposer-based products even more attractive to North American and European industry leaders. POET is engaged in conversations with multiple customers and is actively sending out samples for review and testing. It is expected that such activity will lead to more customer contracts in the near term. Thus far, POET has three customers who have been announced publicly: ADVA, Celestial AI, and FiberTop Technology. A small number of modules has also been shipped to a fourth customer who has yet to be announced and a growing number of other customers have committed to working with POET or are actively engaged in discussions to do so.

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