OFC 2017: Kaiam, Corning present co-packaged terabit photonic interconnect

Created March 28, 2017
Technologies and Products

Potential to reduce chip power consumption by half, say co-developers.

Kaiam and Corning showcased an optical engine and single-mode fibre interface connector suitable for co-packaging with a 12.8Tb/s switch chip at OFC 2017, last week. The partners say that by converting high-speed signals to optical within the switch package, this high-density engine has the potential to cut chip interconnect power consumption in half.

As datarates increase, switch interconnects increasingly require single-mode fibre the sub-micron alignment tolerances required in single-mode optical packaging have been a barrier to practical co-packaged single-mode optical interconnect solutions. So the dramatically reduced power consumption of CoPPhI-enabled switches addresses a fundamental impediment to future data centre growth.

The joint demonstration took place on the Kaiam booth with the prototype connector on display in Corning’s booth. The optics are capable of 1.6Tb/s throughput from four fibres at 400Gbps per fibre (4λ x 100Gbps, readily extended to 8λ). The live demo interoperated at 25Gb/s per λ with a standard CWDM4 transceiver.

Multiple CoPPhI engines can be co-packaged in close proximity to the four sides of a switch ASIC to support 12Tb/s+ of optical connectivity. Single-mode fibres are interfaced to the engine using a low-profile, precision connector compatible with electronic packaging and assembly processes including solder reflow.

Rob Kalman, Kaiam VP of Marketing, commented, “this will be a must-have a couple of Ethernet switch generations down the road. On-board optics such as COBO allow the industry to explore post-pluggable usage models but still require power-hungry electrical interfaces.”

By the 12.8Tb/s switch IC generation, the power required to drive signals over a PCB between the switch IC and the optical module will equal the power required for the switching function itself. By shrinking the optics and pushing the electrical-optical conversion point close to the switch IC, the required line drive power can be minimised.

Kalman added, “We’re working on the part of the problem that actually eliminates this power while also addressing the pressing cost and density needs of our hyperscale data centre customers.”

David Hubbard, VP and Business Manager OEM, Corning Optical Communications, commented, “Thermal stability has been a challenge for fibre components subjected to the processing and operation ranges of electronics. Corning is developing novel solutions to provide single-mode stability for multi-fibre connectors in a form factor compatible with chip packages. This demonstration is an important milestone for the future of data centres and the role that optics will play.”

Matthew Peach

This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.