ALLENTOWN, Pa., June 25 -- Agere Systems, a provider of communications semiconductors, announced the industry's first 16-channel high-voltage amplifier chip for use in all-optical switches that are based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. Called the LSP2916, the chip provides the voltages needed to position micromirrors that steer high-bandwidth optical signals between input and output ports in a switch. The new chip, based on Agere's experience in analog design techniques and high-voltage process technology, replaces discrete solutions that required high-voltage transistors combined with lower voltage operational amplifiers. As a result, it simplifies the design and production of MEMS-based optical networking systems such as switches and cross-connects, the company said. "Systems based on MEMS technology can handle multiple bandwidths and transmission protocols because they manipulate light beams directly -- they don't first convert the traffic to electrical signals," said Sheri Herb, performance products marketing manager in the Analog Products organization.