Can this SiPh transceiver technology satisfy the bandwidth-guzzlers?

21-03-2017 |   |  By Paul Whytock

The constant demand for ever-increasing interconnect bandwidth in datacentres means single-mode optical transceivers will need to scale to Tb/s capacity and be tightly integrated with network switches.

For some years industry has been concerned as to whether it will be able to develop the technology to provide the bandwidth capability to meet the demands of the four big bandwidth-guzzling applications; the Internet of Things, cloud computing and data storage and transfer.

Nano-technology specialist Imec has recently demonstrated an 896Gb/s silicon photonics transceiver of just a few mm2, targeting future Tb/s optical links. Silicon photonics (SiPh) is seen as a potential technology platform that could cope with extremely demanding bandwidth and integration targets; including reaching beyond the 100Gb/s technology that is currently available.

In this development Imec has combined recently developed 50GHz active optical components with a multi-core fibre interface to create a proof-of-concept 896Gb/s spatial-division multiplexing SiPh transceiver.

The bi-directional 896Gb/s silicon photonics transceiver combines dense arrays of 56Gb/s Germanium-Silicon (GeSi) electro-absorption modulators and GeSi waveguide photo detectors with a multi-core fiber interface. It comprises arrays of 16 GeSi electro-absorption modulators (EAM) and 16 GeSi photo detectors (PD), implemented with 100µm channel pitch on a single silicon chip.

The EAM and PD devices are realised in a single GeSi epitaxial growth step, allowing a straightforward fabrication scheme. The chip co-integrates optical power splitters to feed a single laser source to the transmitter channels, and a dense array of fiber grating couplers to interface with a pitch reducing optical fiber array (PROFA), provided and packaged.

Imec has said the GeSi EAM and PD components are available for evaluation by companies and academia through its silicon photonics prototyping service and the iSiPP50G multi-project wafer (MPW) service provided by Europractice.

The iSiPP50G platform includes a validated passive and active device library and is supported by photonic design software solutions from various EDA companies.


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By Paul Whytock

Paul Whytock is Technology Correspondent for Electropages. He has reported extensively on the electronics industry in Europe, the United States and the Far East for over thirty years. Prior to entering journalism, he worked as a design engineer with Ford Motor Company at locations in England, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

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