The photonic integrated circuit (PIC) global systems market will grow to US$19.7 billion by 2033, with most of this coming via communications applications, which are valued at US$16 billion by 2033. Advances in High-Performance Computing (HPC), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Video-on-Demand, and 5G and beyond networking require increasingly high rates of data transmission in order for their utility to be time- and cost-effective. Innovations in material component integration and network architecture are fuelling the development of optical transceivers that enable high bandwidth and high power efficiency transmissions. While the communications market is the main beneficiary of PIC technologies, their compact designs and innovations such as frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) detection have led to their development for other applications, such as for automotive LiDAR and biomedical sensing. IDTechEx leverages its experience and expertise in laser physics, semiconductors, optics, sensors, optoelectronics, and nanophotonics to provide a comprehensive analysis on technologies and products. 10-year market forecasts across six different market segments have been provided, with a focus on communications. IDTechEx also tracks the development and activities of 55 global players, with unbiased research and appraisal.
Following a period of dedicated research by expert analysts, IDTechEx has published a report that offers unique insights into the global PIC technology landscape and corresponding markets. The report contains a comprehensive analysis of 31 players involved with PIC production, as well as an account of the technology readiness levels of 24 further companies. This includes a detailed assessment of technology innovations and market dynamics. The market analysis and forecasts focus on the communications industry, with automotive, biomedical, agriculture, energy & environment, and smart factories, cities and living applications also being reviewed. The report presents an unbiased analysis of primary data gathered via our interviews with key players, and it builds on our expertise in the semiconductor and optoelectronics sectors.
This research delivers valuable insights for:
- Companies that require photonic chip systems*
- Companies that develop photonic chips
- Companies that supply components used in PIC systems
- Companies that invest in PIC design, manufacture, and optoelectronic packaging.
- Companies that develop other technologies for biosensing, agricultural sensing, and automotive LiDAR.
*or similar and competing systems
Photonic Integrated Circuits: Enabling high density data transmission at the speed of light
Semiconductor chips are one of the key technology developments that have ushered in the modern age. Without them, mobile phones, laptops and the internet - amongst other things - would not be possible; humanity would be stuck at something of a technological impasse, with the inability to easily communicate over long distances and freely disseminate large amounts of information.
Most semiconductor chips in existence are entirely electrical; they are little packages consisting of billions of transistors ('on or off' switches) that can be used to store and process data, where electricity is used to operate them. A photonic integrated circuit, rather than relying on electrons for the operation of the circuit, utilizes photons, the quanta of light. While the architecture of a PIC is somewhat different to an electrical IC, PICs can and have been created by leveraging the same manufacturing processes as for the more mature electrical IC industry. By virtue of their physical properties, photons do not experience resistance in the same way that electrons do. This is especially beneficial for long-distance communications, where sending data via electrical means is unwieldly due to the resistance in the conductive material. The use of light to transmit and receive data has enabled a revolution in the communications industry, an industry that is continuing to develop products to enable higher data transmission rates.
Four key market drivers for PIC development. These are due to growing data demands across multiple market segments and applications, such as communications and networking, AI/ML algorithm, runs, and HPC.
400G and beyond: Photonics and the communications industry
The use of PICs for data communications - where they are employed principally in optical transceivers to provide data links between hubs - is a much more mature application than any other. Reasons for this include the inefficiency of electrical systems to achieve long-distance, high-bandwidth data transmissions, limitations that photonic systems do not suffer from. The development of fiber optics that allows for light to be confined and transmitted has enabled communications via light to become prevalent. Added to being able to leverage existing complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) manufacturing processes, PICs are a natural solution for growing data demands.
A representative example of the market players in the communications industry, split out by geography, is given below. Of these, six are examined in detail in the report, where their financial data and technology offering are reviewed: Intel, with its first 100G silicon photonics optical transceiver being released in 2016, is the industry leader for silicon pluggable optics modules; Lumentum designs and manufactures coherent silicon photonics pluggables (up to 400G), as well as tunable lasers and optoelectronic components; Coherent (where II-VI Incorporated acquired Coherent in July 2022) manufactures optical transceivers and provides III-V wafer epitaxy services; Infinera harnesses its Indium Phosphide fabrication facilities to manufacture optical engines, used across its hardware; Cisco has a considerable range of optical transceivers, from 1G up to coherent 400G; and Ciena's networking hardware is driven by its WaveLogic family of chips, comprising (in the case of the WaveLogic 5 Nano) a 7 nm CMOS Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and a silicon photonics sub-assembly.
Supply chain companies by geography. This list is non-exhaustive.
Fertile ground for start-ups: AI acceleration and power savings
The key market drivers shown above have given rise to a number of start-up companies that aim to outperform market incumbents in at least one key metric.
For example, Ayar Labs is focused on the I/O bottleneck issue, where data is moved in and out of a chip/chiplet at a slower rate than the rate with which processing occurs. This creates a backlog in the data stream, where processing/storage conducted in other chips/chiplets is stalled while they await the data. Ayar Labs' optical I/O solution TeraPHY is developed in a high-volume 45 nm GlobalFoundries process, where it promises to deliver up to 1000x bandwidth density improvements at 0.1x the power compared to electrical I/O.
In addition to those looking to capture a portion of the communications market through technological innovations in materials and I/O, this report reviews the prospective offerings of start-ups focused on other applications. One example is Lightmatter, another US-based start-up focused on utilizing photonics for AI acceleration, where its silicon photonics design that enables inference on advanced AI models is realized in its Envise product. Another is Scantinel Photonics, which is developing a LiDAR-on-Chip that utilizes FMCW detection at a range of over 300 m.
This report features 30 profiles for start-ups, 6 of which are developing products for agricultural applications, 5 for biomedical applications, 3 for automotive, 2 for environmental, 2 for smart factories, cities and living, and 12 for communications and information. It should be noted that some products are suitable for multiple applications. However, for the purposes of accurate enumeration, the companies have not been double-counted.
Values on the y-axis are approximate, given in millions of USD$, and rounded to the nearest million USD$. Where funding has been in another currency, this has been converted to USD$. Values stated as of December 2022.
Market developments and roadmaps
IDTechEx's model of the PIC market for communications applications considers material trends, developments in integration, the dispersion/concentration of funding and investments, historical financial data, and geographically-localized ecosystems, to give an accurate representation of the evolving market value over the next ten years.
Our models for the PIC market for agriculture, biomedical, energy and environment, automotive, and industrial applications weigh the likelihood of PIC adoption given the incumbent technologies, examining in the process the relative effectiveness, costs and scalability associated with the relevant systems.
Our report answers important questions such as:
- Which applications will PICs be able to gain a considerable foothold in, and therefore prove to be most profitable?
- What is the present status of PIC technology in each of the aforementioned industries, and what are the future trends and opportunities?
- How is the communications industry landscape evolving in terms of supply chain, investments and partnerships?
- How will each PIC market segment evolve in the short-term and long-term?
Market value of PIC and Non-PIC LiDAR systems, 2022 through 2033.
The report is separated into five chapters. The first is an executive summary, where details pertaining to the main photonic integrated circuit applications within each of the six forecasted market segments are given, as well as an account of the key market players within the supply chain, from design to final product.
The second covers forecasts, with each of the PIC applications in the market segments discussed in the executive summary reviewed. The first market subsection covers the communications industry, as this is the main driver behind PIC development. The forecast is disaggregated by platform and geography, and methodology discussed. For each of the other market segments, market players developing PICs are identified, incumbent technologies are discussed, and individual forecasts are given for PIC applications within those market segments. Each of these segments are then rounded off with a total forecast. Cumulative forecasts are given at the beginning of the chapter, where we show that PIC applications globally will grow by 16.85% CAGR over the course of the forecast window, 2023-2033. We predict that communications will continue to be the dominant market for PICs in 2033, with a generated revenue of US$16.0 Billion. Automotive will be ranked second, with a generated revenue of US$2.5 Billion in 2033. This is figure is composed almost entirely of PIC LiDAR sales, an enabler for autonomous driving and Smart Cities.
The third chapter covers technology, wherein the technology review begins at a basic physical level with understanding electrical ICs. Photonic ICs are contextualized with respect to electrical ICs, and some of the structures used for chip (and modular) design are discussed. The review then goes into industry-specific processes, such as packaging, wafer production, and design processes. While these processes are not specific to the data communications market, it should be noted that we often keep this market in mind when discussing technology, due to its importance.
The fourth chapter covers PIC applications, where the technology requirements for optical transceivers, photonic processors (to achieve neuromorphic architectures), and quantum computing using photonics, are all reviewed. The key market drivers for PIC development are also outlined, these being: higher bandwidth through a single channel, low latency, high power efficiency (with PICs operating at the lowest possible power) and scalability that allows for low cost, especially for the end-user.
The final chapter covers the Players and Products, primarily within the communications market. Seven established companies are reviewed, where they have been chosen due to their impact on the data communications market segment. For each company, financial information (such as revenue and geographic market disaggregation) and company news is discussed, followed by an overview of their relevant product lines and specifications for their PIC products. In addition, twelve start-up companies are reviewed, as well as twelve organizations that are working to develop the European ecosystem for semiconductor photonics.
This report provides the following information:
Technology trends, design and manufacture analysis
- Technology and business review of major market players
- Detailed overview of supply chain
- Analysis of the product offerings of key market players
- Technology review of Photonic Integrated Circuits
- Comparisons between material platforms
- Categorization of key companies by material platforms employed, geography, and type
- Analysis of key company revenue.
- Developments in technology towards achieving best-in-class of key metrics
- Overview of the growing European ecosystem
- Profiles of start-up companies in each of the market segments
- Primary information from key companies
Market Forecasts & Analysis:
- 10-year granular market forecasts by six markets
- Application case studies for both established and emerging markets