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Agere Starts Volume Production of 3D MEMS Components

Communications components maker Agere Systems said it is the first company to start volume production of a three-dimensional microelectromechanical systems (3D MEMS) optical switch component.

Available in 64x64 and 32x32 configurations, Agere's component offers systems manufacturers a scalable, low-loss solution for high-speed all-optical switching systems, cross-connects and add/drop multiplexers.

Announced in 2001, Agere's S5200 3D MEMS optical switch module is a small-form-factor device used to manipulate optical signals without the need to convert the signals to electrical form, allowing any protocol or data rate to pass through the switch. Fabricated using standard IC processing tools, the component includes all of the control electronics needed to manipulate the mirrors in the switch module. This component has begun the process of qualification, which is expected to be completed by summer 2002.

Agere also announced a 50-gigahertz-spaced multiplexer/demultiplexer (MUX/DEMUX) passive optical component with industry-leading performance for use in metro area, long-haul and submarine optical network applications. Based on thin-film filter technology, this device can pack more capacity in dense wavelength-division multiplexed (DWDM) systems, reducing costs and power requirements for systems manufacturers, officials said.

The newest addition to Agere's W7000 line of MUX/DEMUX products, this 50-gigahertz (GHz)-spaced component is used in DWDM systems to combine up to 16 wavelengths (or channels) of light into a single optical fiber (1x16). Also available in 1x4, 1x8 and 1x10 configurations, this optical component offers systems developers the industry's lowest loss and best wavelength stability.

The MUX/DEMUX passive component can be used in combination with optical transmitters to aggregate multiple channels on the "transmit" side of an optical network system, or can precede optical receivers on the "receive" end to demultiplex signals from an optical fiber.

Agere's MUX/DEMUX modules exhibit very low insertion loss (optical power loss) as well as balanced loss across all channels. In a 50-GHz-spaced, eight-channel system, for example, typical insertion loss is only 3.8 decibels, with uniformity better than +/-0.5 decibels. Low loss variations from channel to channel result in balanced optical signals throughout the system and improved bit-error rate performance.