RealTime IT News

The Cure for Bandwidth Blues?

Semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corp. , in a move to bolster its optical networking business, paid about $50 million in cash for the tunable laser business and technology of photonics solutions provider New Focus Inc.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel said that about 40 employees from San Jose, Calif.-based New Focus are joining Intel as well.

The acquisition is aimed at giving Intel a leg up in the optical bandwidth business by employing tunable laser technology that lets service providers adjust the size of their pipelines more or less on the fly, a process known in the communications industry as "dynamic provisioning."

For those with a technical bent, Intel said that the tunable laser technology "will enable Intel to offer small form factor, low-cost tunable optical transceivers to accelerate the deployment of dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) equipment. DWDM equipment is used in optical communications networks to dramatically increase the available bandwidth of the existing fiber infrastructure."

"This acquisition augments the significant optical networking business that Intel has built over the past several years ..." said Gordon Hunter, vice president of the Intel Communications Group and general manager of the company's Optical Products Group. The move builds on Intel's acquisition of LightLogic last year.

Intel, which is trying to turn its money-losing communications business into a powerhouse akin to its microprocessor business, said that DWDM equipment separates light waves that travel over existing optical fibers into as many as 80 individual wavelengths, each capable of carrying 10 gigabits of data per second.

The problem is that each wavelength usually requires a separate laser designed to drive a specific wavelength over the fiber. Tunable transceivers can be adjusted through software to send different wavelengths of light over a fiber. Therefore, original equipment manufacturers can lower their costs by only qualifying and stocking a single tunable transceiver rather than different fixed wavelength parts.

As part of the deal, New Focus and Intel also agreed that Intel will supply New Focus with products developed by Intel using the acquired technology.