Zarlink ultracompact optical engine enables low-power interconnects for green data centers

Zarlink Semiconductor has announced sampling of the Zarlink Optical Engine (ZOE), a scalable-bandwidth multichip carrier for dense, compact array-fiber transceivers.

November 18, 2009 --Zarlink Semiconductor has announced sampling of the Zarlink Optical Engine (ZOE), a scalable-bandwidth multichip carrier for dense, compact array-fiber transceivers. The ZOE platform comprises the multichannel optical light source, optical detector chips, array electronic transmitter, and receiver ICs precision-mounted on a flip-chip glass sub-component carrier with an external array-fiber coupler.

The ZOE platform includes scalable products that terminate 40- to 120-Gbps full bidirectional optical links or array unidirectional (e.g., HDMI) or serial function. Zarlink says ZOE exhibits high signal integrity, data density, and power efficiency. For example, in 4x10-Gbps applications the ZOE 7x7-mm surface-mountable chip carrier dissipates 480 mW while delivering what the company claims as the industry's highest footprint density per gigabit.

"ZOE meets an immediate demand for low-power, highly efficient interconnect solutions to support the evolution of 'green' data centers and computer clusters," says Mauricio Peres, product line director with Zarlink's Optical Products group. "We are expanding our optical portfolio with new dense multichip products that address key customer concerns, such as signal integrity for multiple 10G links, power per bit, and cost per bit. The ZOE platform initially targets InfiniBand QDR and 40G/100G Ethernet applications and will become the industry standard array-fiber optical subassembly."

For environmental and operating cost reasons, data centers require improved optical products for equipment interconnects that consume less power and efficiently support higher data-rate performance. A 40-Gbps bidirectional ZOE integrates all key array-optical and array-electronic components on chip carrier, setting a new performance benchmark in its 10-12 mW of power consumption per gigabit and improving upon previous data center interconnect products.

"ZOE's precision aligned optical source and receive arrays enable simple optical coupling to standard fiber ribbon cables in a proven-reliable nonhermetic package," says Bertil Kronlund, product line manager with Zarlink's Optical Communications product group. "ZOE is the industry's first optical engine produced using wafer-scale assembly. The precision of the flip-chip assembly approach enables ultracompact size and form factors supporting multichannel data rates to 25 Gbps per channel up to 300 Gbps aggregate of full bidirectional data traffic."

ZOE is attached to the customers' circuit board using solder bumps. It targets array-active optical cables and array-receptacle transceivers for InfiniBand QDR (4x10 Gbps), 40/100 Gigabit Ethernet, 12-channel InfiniBand CXP, proprietary high-speed network protocols, CFP short reach, Display Port, and other PC platform applications, such as Intel's Light Peak.

ZOE evaluation kits for 4x10G applications are available now through Zarlink's optical product group sales team.

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