Optical transceivers & transponders are an integral part of fiber optic networks for data communication and Ethernet applications. By definition, they are co-packaged transmitters (Tx) and receivers (Rx) along with control electronics; transceivers and transponders have serial and parallel electrical interfaces, respectively. The Tx subcomponents are typically fixed wavelength, and offered for each coarse or dense wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM or DWDM) channel, so that multiple transceivers can be operated simultaneously on a single optical fiber. However, in the last 10 years, tunable transponders have become available, capable of operating on each of 100-200 channels centered on the telecom wavelengths of 1310 and 1550 nm.
For fixed wavelength transceivers and transponders, the Tx and Rx components are rather simple, but a variety of technologies can be used for each. Transmitters can employ, depending on the center wavelength and required optical power, vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELS), light emitting diodes (LEDs), or edgeemitting laser diodes (either distributed feedback (DFB) or Fabry-Perot (FP)), along with a monitor photodiode for output power control. Receivers use either PIN or avalanche (APD) photodiodes, both in conjunction with transimpedance amplifiers (TIA). The devices are based on GaAs (850 nm) or InP (1310 and 1550 nm) materials. Both are typically packaged in hermetic TO cans, which are then soldered onto printed circuit boards with flex cables and mounted into metal enclosures.
The worldwide market for optical transceivers & transponders was greater than $2 billion in 2007, based on a total volume of ~ 40 million units (with substantial variation based on market, wavelength, reach, and data rate). Roughly 5% of that volume was in tunable transponders. Sales were projected to increase to nearly $3 billion in 2012, but that is clearly questionable with the recent economic crash. Major companies in the transceiver market include Avago, Avanex, Bookham, Emcore (which recently acquired assets from Intel), Finisar, Fujitsu, Hitachi, JDS Uniphase, Mitsubishi, NEC, Opnext (Stratalight), and Source Photonics (Luminent-Fiberxon merger). There has been significant consolidation recently, coupled with steady improvements in costs and yields, suggesting that transceiver profitability will continue to increase despite significant pricing pressure from OEMs.
Key infant mortality and wear-out failure modes for fixed wavelength transceivers are summarized below at the chip, package, and module level. This list is by no means comprehensive, but is based on failures that the author and other DfR staff have directly observed on fielded devices. Tunable transponders are subject to the same failure modes, but have a number of additional, technology specific device & packaging failure modes that will not be discussed here.
DfR Solutions works with component suppliers, OEMs, and end users to identify designs, materials, processes, and qualification test methods that enable the reliable operation of components and systems. For transceivers, the following services are particularly relevant
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