Posted: November 23, 2007

Study 'Silicon Photonics: Challenges and Future' Available Now

(Nanowerk News) Research and Markets has announced the addition of Silicon Photonics: Challenges and Future to their offering.
Examines the emphasis on silicon photonics today as a potential optical interconnect solution and addresses the issues and technology paths being pursued.
Today’s electronic society is seeing increased demand for data transfer, internet downloads, online applications, video sharing, and storage. Banks, companies, universities, and governments require large secure data centers connected to secure networks. This continuously drives the development of more powerful servers and computer systems. Today’s data centers are not single computer systems but networked systems with distributed processing, computational power, and memory. The systems are connected by ‘nodes,’ which connect the components of the ‘computer.’ The configuration depends on the applications, functionality, and user requirements. This demanding environment is evolving and pushing for the development of higher speed interconnects.
Copper interconnects are currently used extensively within the data center environment. Fiber optic technology is used as a connectivity solution when higher performance is required and the cost differential compared to a copper solution is affordable. Fiber optic technology offers several key advantages over copper solutions for data transmission. Within today’s data center, there is ubiquitous use of multi-mode fiber and optical trans-ceivers for rack to rack connections. The fiber ports provide dedicated links, with reach up to 300 meters on multi-mode fiber and 2 km on single mode fiber. The fiber connections allow networks to connect to the wide area or local area networks (WAN or LAN). As improvements have occurred in fiber optic transceiver performance and cost has been reduced, there has been further proliferation of fiber optics within the data center.
Traditionally, there has been a debate on the distance-cost crossover from a copper to an optic solution. III-V photonics offers a solution, but in recent years there has been a drive to integrate silicon technology with III-V technology. Within the communications field, the integration of silicon and III-V devices has been a goal for the last 20 years. Initial development centered on silicon optical bench technology as a route to lower cost, passive optical alignment, and integration. Several major computer and connector companies invested heavily in this area during the late 1980s and early 1990s. AMP Incorporated purchased the GTE patent portfolio, specifically to develop optical components based on silicon microbench technology. Lucent Technologies, under the Laser 2000 program, developed optical sub-assembly technology for low-cost active alignment and high-speed RF transmission. Lucent was also the developer of optical micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) devices for all optical switching. The MEMS’ mirror technology has been implemented in high definition projection televisions (DLP) by Texas Instruments. The integration of silicon and III-V has generated tremendous numbers of patents and publications.
The III-V community has tried to develop optical electronic integrated circuits (OEIC) with increased functionality, but no significant application driver has prevailed. The integration of different functions on a single chip has been demonstrated. Several products are manufactured today, including tunable lasers, which take advantage of the functional integration technology. Integrated circuit (IC) packaging offers the chance to develop optical input/output (I/O) for electronic chip sets and provide a new volume market for optical communications devices. The integration of silicon and III-V technology offers a potential solution to the I/O bottleneck that has been predicted for IC technology.
Several companies and non-profit organizations within the silicon semiconductor industry have highlighted the technology issues facing copper interconnects for inter-chip, intra-chip, and board-to-board communications. OIDA held a workshop in November 2004 to discuss several of these aspects. Because of the emphasis on silicon photonics today as a potential optical interconnect solution, OIDA held a silicon photonics forum, in conjunction with an interconnect forum, to understand the issues and technology paths being pursued. This report reviews aspects of this subject, provides a synopsis of the information from the meeting, and offers some conclusions.
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Source: Research and Markets
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