For those of us involved in optical communications, it’s possible to mark another year’s passing with the end of another OFC week. OFC 2024 was the biggest on record, with over 12,500 visitors and 630 exhibiting companies and really is a must visit to find out what’s happening across the industry.

Without a doubt, this year’s main theme was artificial intelligence (AI), and technologies such as:  800ZR, Coherent PON, Linear Pluggable Optics (LPO), multicore fiber, data center technology, and quantum networking were the favorites.

For optical communications, AI is much more than a buzzword, and is the driving force behind the recent uptick in demand for optical networking technology. While not exhibiting at the show, NVIDIA’s presence was strong at panel sessions and is on everyone’s radar. The whole ecosystem, from optical networks, optical transceivers, and opto-electronics components e.g.: PAM4 DSP ICs, and support technologies such as assembly equipment and test instrumentation, is thriving as a result.

The hype around Co-Packaging Optics (CPO) seems to have abated somewhat although there were very promising demonstrations and announcements by the likes of Intel, Broadcom, Ranovus/AMD and others, and CPO is a serious contender to provide the much-needed power savings in optical communication.

Linear Pluggable Optics (LPO) is the hot technology ‘du jour’ to provide power savings for networks by discarding the in situ DSP with a clean linear transmission path, but there are still a lot of question marks for instance around interoperability. An MSA was formed ( and under Mark Nowell’s leadership we can be assured that all the critical issues are going to be addressed, and if at all possible a healthy supply chain will arise.

Silicon Photonics / Photonic ICs remain a key enabling technology for next gen AI systems and NVIDIA, Marvell, Broadcom, Intel, Ayar Labs, and many others are supporting this technology. In fact, it seems that the industry has reached an inflection point and everyone is scrambling to get ready for the mass production of PIC technology, from foundry to outsourced semi-conductor assembly and test (OSAT) and contract manufacturer (CM), as well as the supporting companies that develop assembly equipment and test & measurement solutions.

200G per channel technology, optical and electrical, is being pushed hard and deployments can be expected in the near future, however mainstream adoption is still a few years away (not according to everyone).

Juniper, Coherent, and Marvell showed the first 800ZR coherent system demo, while photonic AI startups such as Lightmatter and CelestialAI were in the spotlight with the latter receiving a $175 Million Series C Funding Round during the conference.

The OIF interoperability demo was a huge success and the largest ever, with 47 member participants showcasing multi-vendor interoperability of 800ZR, Co-Packaging, 224G CEI, and CMIS, paving the way for mass adoption of these critical technology areas.

The rump session’ How Much Optics Does AI Need?’ chaired by Peter Winzer of Nubis Communications was very entertaining. The rump sessions are always a good indicator of what is hot in optical communication, but the opinions of the esteemed panelists are not necessarily a reliable indicator of what is going to happen in the future. For instance, in the past there were some rather dim views on the future and feasibility of Silicon Photonics, which by now have been completely proven wrong.

Maybe the harsh rhetoric around some of the Photonics AI start-ups such as Lightmatter and CelestialAI, is a good indicator of what is going to happen. The venture capitalists agree and congrats to the team of CelestialAI with closing their Series C Funding. Besides, it is always fun to see Chris Cole and Mark Lutkowitz trying to get their points across with the latter using some animated handwaving!

Quantifi Photonics’ presence at the show floor:

For Quantifi Photonics, we enjoyed high visibility at the show. Our new island booth featured four separate stations: our QCA Series digital sampling oscilloscope, coherent test with VISIQ coherent DSP software/IQRX optical modulation analyzer, PIC/wafer testing and general-purpose photonics/transceiver testing.  We also hosted a demonstration of Ayar Labs new SuperNova™ remote light source and supported ten other demonstrations at booths across the show floor, and topped off the week with Iannick Monfils (our CTO and co-founder) speaking in the APC & OPTICA Integrated Photonics Ecosystem Series discussion panel.

We hosted a demonstration of the first CW-WDM MSA compliant light source with our compact, and highly scalable OSA-1000 Optical Spectrum Analyzer. Ayar Labs’ SuperNova™ remote light source addresses a critical requirement for development and rollout of next-generation optical networks and generative AI tech.

A joint demo with ficonTEC and Silitronics to highlight OSAT – equipment – test integration to scale manufacturing of PIC-based optical interconnects. Quantifi Photonics PXI-based photonics test modules are designed to be integrated into assembly and packaging platforms used by these leading companies for high-volume manufacturing. 

Lumentum showcased their new high power CW laser with a Quantifi Photonics PXI-based test solution.

Our setup at the OIF interoperability demonstrations combined our VISIQ coherent optical signal analysis software and IQRX coherent receiver with Wilder Technologies QSFP-DD module compliance board. This allows us to provide deep insights into 400ZR+ transceiver performance with EVM, constellation plots and eye diagrams. 

Polariton Technologies used our OSA-1000 Series optical spectrum analyzer for the real-time demonstration of their MZM-P110 plasmonic Mach-Zehnder Modulator to demonstrate signal modulation at very high frequencies (between 80 and 125 GHz) for devices aimed at 1.6T-DR4 modulation schemes.

LioniX International employed our OSA-1000 Series optical spectrum analyzer to demonstrate their new O-band ultra-narrow linewidth integrated CW tunable laser.

Iannick Monfils (CTO and co-founder of Quantifi Photonics) participated in the APC/Optica panel ‘An Ecosystem Perspective on Scaling Integrated Photonics for the AI Revolution’ with NVIDIA, Broadcom, Jabil, Global Foundries, Ficontec, and Silitronics.

We were also thrilled to support demonstrations on the booths of MPI Corporation, POET Technologies and AIM Photonics, as well as supporting Jabil with their product demos.

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