30-Gb/s, 10-km silicon photonics optical link for data centers revealed at OFC

The purported highest serial data-rate for a full silicon photonics optical link is being reported by IBM, in collaboration with Aurrion Inc.

Mar 13th, 2014

The purported highest serial data-rate for a full silicon photonics optical link is being reported by IBM, in collaboration with Aurrion Inc. (Goleta, CA), demonstrating the reach, power consumption, and cost needed for next-generation data centers. The work is being presented on March 13 as part of the post deadline session at the Optical Fiber Communications Conference (OFC 2014) in San Francisco, California.

Constructed from Aurrion photonic components packaged with low-power IBM 32-nm CMOS drivers, the optical link demonstrated error-free for data rates up to 30 Gb/s. To test the feasibility of meeting interconnect reaches required of today’s largest data centers, the optical transmitter and receiver assemblies were connected with single-mode fiber lengths of up to 10-km, demonstrating no observable performance penalties at 25 Gb/s. Using only 75 mW, the extremely low power consumption of the optical transmitter and receiver are significantly smaller than the watts of power consumed by today’s 10km-reach optics, the companies say, enabling systems to scale farther with ever growing bandwidth requirements.

Related: Silicon photonics to re-vamp the data center?

“A low-power, silicon photonic, WDM transceiver with 25 Gb/s channels would address key data center network needs particularly as it provides a path to meet future bandwidth requirements using existing fiber infrastructures,” asserts Daryl Inniss, VP and practice leader of components for technology markets researcher Ovum Inc.

The heterogeneously integrated III-V/Si modulator and photodetector components used in this work were fabricated on the same silicon platform as the uncooled, high performance, WDM laser arrays Aurrion presented at OFC in 2013. In combination, the company says that these three components showcase the key photonic functionality needed to deliver WDM transceivers which meet the bandwidth, reach, cost, and power requirements required for next-generation data center interconnects.

“Aurrion has previously demonstrated uncooled WDM 4x25 Gb/s transceivers by integrating lasers, modulators and photodiodes on silicon," concludes Dr. Greg Fish, CTO of Aurrion. "This work shows that the optimization of the modulator and photodiode for CMOS electronics produces the very low power optical links needed for data centers and high performance computing."

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