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Silicon Photonics

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Entries in switch chip (2)


Imec eyes silicon photonics to solve chip I/O bottleneck

In the second and final article, the issue of adding optical input-output (I/O) to ICs is discussed with a focus on the work of the Imec nanoelectronics R&D centre that is using silicon photonics for optical I/O.

Part 2: Optical I/O

Imec has demonstrated a compact low-power silicon-photonics transceiver operating at 40 gigabits per second (Gbps). The silicon photonics transceiver design also uses 14nm FinFET CMOS technology to implement the accompanying driver and receiver electronics. 

Joris Van Campenhout“We wanted to develop an optical I/O technology that can interface to advanced CMOS technology,” says Joris Van Campenhout, director of the optical I/O R&D programme at Imec. “We want to directly stick our photonics device to that mainstream CMOS technology being used for advanced computing applications.”

Traditionally, the Belgium nanoelectronics R&D centre has focussed on scaling logic and memory but in 2010 it started an optical I/O research programme. “It was driven by the fact that we saw that electrical I/O doesn’t scale that well,” says Van Campenhout. Electrical interfaces have power, space and reach issues that get worse with each hike in transmission speed.

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Ciena goes stackable with 8180 'white box' and 6500 RLS

Ciena has unveiled two products - the 8180 coherent networking platform and the 6500 reconfigurable line system - that target cable and cellular operators that are deploying fibre deep in their networks, closer to subscribers.

The 6500 line system is also aimed at the data centre interconnect market given how the webscale players are experiencing a near-doubling of traffic each year.

Source: Ciena

The cable industry is moving to a distributed access architecture (DAA) that brings fibre closer to the network’s edge and splits part of the functionality of the cable modem termination system (CMTS) - the remote PHY - closer to end users. The cable operators are deploying fibre to boost the data rates they can offer homes and businesses.

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