M/A-COM Acquires Optomai To Boost Fiber Optic Business

Fabless semiconductor company Optomai targets the high-speed optical market to resolve power consumption, cost, and size issues faced by 40-Gbps and 100-Gbps systems.

Chandler Harris, Contributor

April 29, 2011

3 Min Read

Semiconductor company M/A-COM Technology Solutions announced it has acquired fabless semiconductor company Optomai Wednesday, in move meant to bolster M/A-COM's presence in the high-speed fiber optic network market. M/A-COM is seeking to gain a larger foothold in the growing fiber optic market, said Jihye Whang, director of strategic marketing for M/A-COM.

"The piece we found attractive about Optomai is that they power our fiber optic networks and that was a piece we wanted to bolster in our product portfolio," said Whang said in an interview. "Plus, with the ongoing demand for cloud computing and higher networking, everyone is upgrading their fiber."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Optomai is a Silicon Valley-based company that was founded nearly two years ago, targeting the high-speed optical market space of 40 gigabytes per second and 100 Gbps. The privately held company produces high-speed optoelectronic integrated circuits such as laser modulator drivers and transimpedance amplifiers (TIA). Optomai says its products resolve issues of power consumption, cost, and size faced by 40-Gbps and 100-Gbps optical links.

This market will continue to see strong growth due to expected network congestion from increasing usage and the growing number of smartphone and tablet devices entering the market, said Vivek Rajgarhia, general manager of the optoelectronics business unit.

"In 2009 more than 75% of the optical systems revenue came from 10 Gbps or lower data rate systems, and less than 20% was from 40 and 100 Gbps systems," Rajgarhia said in an interview. "By 2013 more than 50% will be from 40 and 100 Gbps systems."

Optomai's product portfolio and expertise in gallium arsenide antenna switches and indium phosphide circuit design complements M/A-COM Tech's existing cable TV/broadcast and point-to-point/infrastructure businesses, and accelerates its penetration of the rapidly growing optical communications market.

M/A-COM is a 60-year-old semiconductor company based in Lowell, Mass., that supplies high-performance semiconductors and related equipment for use in radio frequency, microwave, and millimeter-wave applications. The company's diverse market includes cable TV, wireless infrastructure, optical communications, aerospace and defense, automotive, industrial, medical, and mobile devices.

M/A-COM believes it is also acquiring a team of talented engineers and other staff from Optomai that will help rejuvenate the established company.

"The problem with any big company is how you cultivate innovation," Whang said. "Cultivating innovation is a new methodology for us and we look forward to incubating Optomai into our sales channel."

Right before the acquisition was made public, competing company GigOptix filed a lawsuit against Optomai and five former GigOptix employees. The lawsuit claims the former employees violated confidentiality agreements with GigOptix by "retaining and misusing confidential and proprietary GigOptix information to launch a competing company."

The lawsuit alleges the former employees created Optomai in 2009 and have begun selling products that directly compete with GigOptix's products. ''GigOptix further alleges that Optomai used GigOptix technology and intellectual property to develop its products in violation of California law and that it is now selling its products as the 'Optomai Optoelectronics' product line of MA-COM.''

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