Macom and GlobalFoundries collaborate on silicon photonics for 5G, data centres

Created March 6, 2019
News and Business

Macom and GlobalFoundries (GF) have announced a strategic collaboration to ramp up Macom’s Laser Photonic Integrated Circuit (L-PIC) platform using GF’s current-generation silicon photonics offering, 90WG, to meet data centre and 5G telecom industry demands. Macom says the collaboration will leverage GF’s 300mm silicon manufacturing process to deliver requisite cost, scale and capacity that is expected to enable mainstream L-PIC deployment for hyperscale data centre interconnects and 5G network deployments at 100G, 400G and beyond.

GF’s 90WG, built on the company’s 90nm SOI technology using 300mm wafer processing, enables low-cost integration of optical devices like modulators, multiplexers and detectors into a single silicon substrate. Macom’s L-PIC technology solves the remaining key challenge of aligning lasers to the silicon PIC. Leveraging Macom’s patented Etched Facet Technology (EFT) lasers and a patented Self-Alignment EFT (SAEFTTM) process, Macom’s lasers are aligned and attached directly to the silicon photonics die with high speed and high coupling efficiency, thereby accelerating the adoption of silicon photonics in true industrial-scale applications.

Macom says the industry is entering a long upgrade cycle for high speed optical connectivity within cloud data centres as well as 5G optical buildouts. Industry forecasts project 2019, 2020 and beyond to be strong growth years for Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing (CWDM) and PAM-4, with the potential for overall unit demand in 2019, reaching volumes of 10 million units. With a track record of enabling 1.6 million ports in 2016, 4 million ports in 2017, and 6 million ports in 2018, Macom will work with GF to scale L-PIC production aimed at meeting this exponentially growing market demand.

“With the demand for bandwidth doubling inside data centres each year, cloud service providers are supply constrained in moving to 100G and beyond. On top of this, telecom carriers are now adopting the same CWDM and PAM-4 optical standards for their 5G Network buildouts. The ability to efficiently scale transceiver capacity and manufacturing throughput is critical,” said John Croteau, president and CEO of Macom.  “By aligning capacity expansion between GF’s silicon photonics technology and Macom’s EFT Lasers, and moving to 300mm wafers, we believe that this very strategic collaboration will allow us to meet industry demand and position us to service the industry for years to come.”

“We have built an incredible foundation as a leader in providing silicon photonic solutions and advanced packaging capabilities that enable our clients to build a new generation of high-performance optical interconnects,” said Tom Caulfield, CEO at GF. “With our deep manufacturing expertise, combined with Macom’s strong technology, we can deliver differentiated silicon photonic solutions at scale, accelerate time-to-market, and reduce costs for client applications in data centre and next-generation 5G optical networks.”

Macom also announced at OFC an enlarged portfolio of optoelectronic and photonic solutions including its newly-expanded range of 400G PAM-4 chipset solutions for data centre optical connectivity with new low-noise TIAs.

For more information, visit www.macom.com

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This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.