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Adva joins group ‘revolutionizing’ data center technology

21 Jun 2016

DIMENSION project forms complete value chain for integrated optical circuits with active photonics.

Optical communications technology developer Adva Optical Networking is playing a key role in the Directly Modulated Lasers on Silicon (DIMENSION,) project. DIMENSION, which brings together a consortium of research and industry partners from four European countries, aims to create a platform for single-chip electro-optical integration. The breakthrough technology it produces will involve lasers built with active III-V materials embedded into silicon photonics chips.

DIMENSION, a €3.4 million project, of which €2.6 million will be contributed by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, is intended to establish “a truly integrated electro-optical platform, extending the silicon (Bi)CMOS and silicon photonics platform with III-V photonic functionality.”

The III-V integration concept is fully CMOS-compatible and offers fundamental advantages compared to state-of-the art integration approaches, say the developers. The project outline states, “After bonding and growing ultra-thin III-V structures onto the silicon front-end-of-line, the active optical functions will be embedded into the back-end of line stack. This offers great opportunities for new innovative devices and functions at the chip-level but also for the assembly of such silicon devices.”

“As processing takes place on silicon wafers, this project has the opportunity to bring the cost of integrated devices, with CMOS, photonic and III-V functionality, down to the cost of silicon volume manufacturing. Such a platform has the potential to allow Europe to take a leading position in the field of high functionality integrated photonics.”

Three dimensions

The DIMENSION project is planned to achieve three distinct demonstrators:

  • A short-reach transmitter for intra-datacenter operation addressing the 400 GbE-LR8 (IEEE 802.3bs) standard making use of an array of directly modulated lasers, pulse-amplitude-modulation (PAM4) techniques and 8 wavelength channels in the telecom O-band.
  • A medium-reach transmitter for inter-datacenter applications beyond the 400 GbE-LR8 (IEEE 802.3bs) standard by providing a tuneable coherent transmitter for inter-datacenter and metro applications for link lengths in excess of 10km using a modulator integrated on the same chip.
  • A novel laser directly grown on silicon photonics, operated at 25Gb/s in the telecom O-band demonstrating the significant cost-saving potential of the technologies pursued in DIMENSION.

Bert Offrein, manager, photonics, IBM Research in Zurich, Switzerland, said, “DIMENSION unites specialists from different fields and enables us to address the complete value chain of directly-modulated lasers, from materials research to application. What we’re bringing to the table is a lot of experience with transformational data center innovation.

Take the optics to the data

“We’re focusing on incorporating highly efficient III-V materials into silicon chips. Our role is to design and produce the integrated active optical components. This technology will bring the optics to where the data is generated and that leads to improvements in every part of the data center. By enhancing interconnections at different reaches, from centimeters up to kilometers, we’ll be able to reduce size, cost and power on links between boards, computers and facilities.”

The DIMENSION project is coordinated by Dresden University of Technology and involves partners from Germany, Switzerland, Greece and the UK. The two research centers included are Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics and Athens Information Technology.

The large industry partners are Adva, Optocap and IBM Research. The project aims to take electro-optical integration to a new level by producing silicon chips built with active laser components. The consortium of partners also forms a complete value chain for the production of the new technology, from research through to innovative package design and assembly. The project will run until the end of January 2020.

Michael Eiselt, director, advanced technology, at Adva, said, “Improving efficiency in the DCI couldn’t be more vital given the increasing demand for cloud computing and the growing scale of the internet of things. Much of our recent innovation has centered on enhancing the DCI, such as our FSP 3000 CloudConnect solution.

“By integrating the three distinct technologies of silicon photonics, electronics and active photonics, we’re giving data centers what they need to meet tomorrow’s demands. It’s great to be working closely with other European companies and institutions to make this vital breakthrough a reality. It also provides fantastic opportunities for university students who get to be at the forefront of innovation and help make a significant impact on the industry.”

Delta Optical Thin Film A/SSynopsys, Optical Solutions GroupEKSMA OPTICSPhotonTec Berlin GmbHScitec Instruments LtdEaling UGSchaefter und Kirchhoff GmbH
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