Effect Photonics has completed the acquisition of Viasat’s staff specialising in coherent digital signal processing and forward error correction (FEC) technologies and the associated intellectual property.
The company also announced a deal with Jabil Photonics – a business unit of manufacturing services firm Jabil – to co-develop coherent optical modules that the two companies will sell.
The deals enable Effect Photonics to combine Viasat’s coherent IP with its indium phosphide laser and photonic integrated circuit (PIC) expertise to build coherent optical designs and bring them to market.
Harald Graber, chief commercial officer at Effect Photonics, says the company chose to target the coherent market after an internal strategic review about how best to use its PIC technology.
The company’s goal is to make coherent technology as affordable as possible to address existing and emerging markets.
“We have a kind of semiconductor play,” says Graber. By which he means high-volume manufacturing to make the technology accessible.
“When you go to low cost, you cannot depend 100 per cent on buying the coherent digital signal processor (DSP) from the merchant market,” he says. “So the idea was relatively early-born that somehow we had to address this topic.”
This led to talks with Viasat and the acquisition of its team and technology.
“We also saw, as with some of our competitors, that making modules for satellite or free-space optics has a natural harmony for the roadmaps,” says Graber.
Effect Photonics and Jabil Photonics will bring to market an advanced, low-power coherent module design based on the QSFP-DD form factor.
Graber says 400ZR+ coherent modules fall short in their output power which is noticeable for networks with multiple reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexing (ROADM) stages.
“So you need a little more [output power], and our technology allows us to do more,” he says.
By owning a coherent DSP and PIC, the company can integrate closely the two to optimise the coherent engine’s optical performance.
“You have a lot of room for improvement, which you cannot do when you buy a merchant DSP, especially when we talk about a 1.6 terabit design and above,” says Graber. “Our optical machine is already fully integrated, including the laser. It’s just now this last piece part to alleviate the current industry barriers.”
Effect Photonics’ focus is the communications sector. “We are putting everything in place to serve the hyperscalers,” says Graber.
The company is also looking at satellite communications and free-space optics.
Effect Photonics is working with Aircision, a company developing a free-space optics system that can send 10 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) over a 5km link for mobile backhaul and broadband applications.
Having all the parts for coherent designs will enable the company to address other markets like quantum key distribution (QKD) and lidar.
“The main problem with QKD is you cannot use amplification,” says Graber. “You need to have something fully integrated, with a nice output power to achieve the links.”
Graber says that for QKD, the company will only have to tweak its chip.
“We just have to make sure that the internal noise is in the right levels and these kinds of things,” says Graber. “So there’s a lot of opportunities; it puts us in a nice position.”
Effect Photonics is headquartered in The Netherlands and has offices in four countries.
Last year, the company raised $43M in Series-C funding. The company raised a further $20 million with the Viasat deal.
The company has 250 staff, split between engineering and a large manufacturing facility.
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