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MultiPhy readies 100 Gigabit serial direct-detection chip

MultiPhy is developing a chip that will support serial 100 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) transmission using 25 Gig optical components. The device will enable short reach links within the data centre and up to 80km point-to-point links for data centre interconnect. The fabless chip company expects to have first samples of the chip, dubbed FlexPhy, by year-end.

Figure 1: A block diagram of the 100 Gig serial FlexPhy. The transmitter output is an electrical signal that is fed to the optics. Equally, the input to the receive path is an electrical signal generated by the receiver optics. Source: Gazettabyte

The FlexPhy IC comprises multiplexing and demultiplexing functions as well as a receiver digital signal processor (DSP). The IC's transmitter path has a CAUI-4 (4x28 Gig) interface, a 4:1 multiplexer and four-level pulse amplitude modulation (PAM-4) that encodes two bits per symbol. The resulting chip output is a 50 Gbaud signal used to drive a laser to produce the 100 Gbps output stream.

"The input/output doesn't toggle at 100 Gig, it toggles at 50 Gig," says Neal Neslusan, vice president of sales and marketing at MultiPhy. "But 50 Gig PAM-4 is actually 100 Gigabit-per-second."

The IC's receiver portion will use digital signal processing to recover and decode the PAM-4 signals, and demultiplex the data into four 28 Gbps electrical streams. The FlexPhy IC will fit within a QSFP28 pluggable module.

As with MultiPhy's first-generation chipset, the optics are overdriven. With the MP1101Q 4x28 Gig multiplexer and MP1100Q four-channel receiver, 10 Gig optics are used to achieve four 28 Gig lanes, while with the FlexPhy, a 25 Gig laser is used. "Using a 25 GigaHertz laser and double-driving it to 50 GigaHertz induces some noise but the receiver DSP cleans it up," says Neslusan.

The use of PAM-4 incurs an optical signal-to-noise ratio (OSNR) penalty compared to non-return-to-zero (NRZ) signalling used for MultiPhy's first-generation direct-detection chipset. But PAM-4 has a greater spectral density; the 100 Gbps signal fits within a 50 GHz channel, resulting in 80 wavelengths in the C-band. This equates to 8 terabits of capacity to connect data centres up to 80 km apart.

Within the data centre, MultiPhys physical layer IC will enable 100 Gbps serial interfaces. The design could also enable 400 Gig links over distances of 500 m, 2 km and 10 km, by using four FlexPhys, four transmitter optical sub-assemblies (TOSAs) and four receiver optical sub-assemblies (ROSAs).

Meanwhile, MultiPhy's existing direct-detection chipset has been adopted by multiple customers. These include two optical module makers Oplink and a Chinese vendor and a major Chinese telecom system vendor that is using the chipset for a product coming to market now. 

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