Elite Advanced Laser (eLaser), a Taiwan-based provider of optical communication solutions, is strategically adapting to the demands of the AI-driven era, with a particular focus on silicon photonics technology. The company is gearing up for a new wave of growth, driven by high-speed technologies such as 800G, 1.6T, and innovative silicon photonics applications expected to unfold between 2024 and 2025.
In response to the 2023 consumer market downturn, eLaser is shifting its operational focus from consumer applications to data centers. Its general manager Sung Tien-Tseng stressed that 2024 will see a concentration on data center applications without compromising profit margins. The company plans to upgrade its technology and explore new applications such as 5G, automotive LiDAR, and high-power lasers, expecting 800G high-speed optical communication modules to dominate the application market next year.
The current market spotlight on silicon photonics primarily revolves around AI and machine learning. However, the applications of silicon photonics extend beyond these domains, encompassing areas such as healthcare. As AI applications and transmission speeds rapidly advance, silicon photonics is expected to play a crucial role in addressing power consumption challenges, particularly in AI servers.
In light of the growing demand for reduced power consumption, eLaser is closely monitoring the development trends of co-packaged optics (CPO) in the industry. The focus is on two perspectives: CPO and linear-drive pluggable optics (LPO). While LPO shows faster progress in the short term, CPO is considered the ideal goal, though challenges remain. Major North American cloud providers express concerns about potential supply chain entanglements with CPO introduction. LPO is expected to have short-term advantages, but CPO is seen as a viable long-term solution, with both approaches aiming to reduce power consumption, according to Sung.
In December 2022, eLaser made a significant investment in Centera Photonics, gaining a controlling stake. Centera Photonics specializes in optical modules and transceiver products, especially those exceeding speeds of 800G. Sung noted that the collaboration aims to ensure that product specifications meet North American customer demands, enhancing competitiveness in production volume and costs for mutual benefits.
While 400G optical transceiver modules remain the primary focus, eLaser is actively shifting towards designing and confirming specifications for 800G products, expecting that 800G technology will become the mainstream in 2024. But with the imminent arrival of 1.6T, the company is optimistic about silicon photonics becoming a crucial source of technology in the future.