Scottsdale, ARIZ. — While broadband users will be unaware of them, switches based on Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology will help meet the demand for higher levels of communications transmission, making bandwidth-hogging applications more accessible, according to Cahners In-Stat Group. The high-tech market research firm cites growing excitement about the role of MEMS in the all-optical network of the future and reports that sales of MEMS switches will help boost the overall MEMS market from $3 billion in 1999 to $7 billion in 2004.
MEMS switches, often referred to as photonic switches, avoid the need for signal conversion and allow for higher rates of data throughput at a lower cost. According to Marlene Bourne, Senior Analyst for In-Stat’s Logic Service, “MEMS technology has been around for about 25 years, but only became commercially viable in the early 1990s. Even so, MEMS have penetrated everyday life in applications like airbag deployment systems, blood pressure monitors, televisions and home appliances.” Bourne continues, “While there’s considerable excitement about the use of MEMS technology in optical networks, that’s not to say the road to commercialization will be easy. Market growth depends entirely on how quickly the optical network rolls out, what impact competitive technologies will have, and whether MEMS switches can overcome a few technological hurdles such as speed and port count. In addition, forecasting of the MEMS market seems to suffer from the ‘hockey stick effect’ – charts which indicate near vertical growth in just a few years’ time. In-Stat believes that significant growth will occur, but at a relatively modest pace.”
In-Stat has also found that:
* MEMS could have a huge impact on the networking industry. Several high profile acquisitions during the first half of 2000 indicate a rapidly coalescing market. Networking leaders shelled out $5 billion in the first six months of the year to get their hands on MEMS switching technology.
* MEMS-based photonic switches are forecast to be the first MEMS device to surpass the $1 billion mark by 2004.
Please visit http://www.instat.com/pr/2000/as0004mf_pr.htm to view a related graph.