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Rockley Photonics works with Cadence to develop datacoms management tool

03 Dec 2020

Silicon photonics systems developer uses specialised software to design "hyperscale" system-in-package.

Developing silicon photonics solutions provider Rockley Photonics has partnered with electronics systems designer Cadence Design Systems to create a high-performance system-in-package (SiP) for hyperscale data centers. Using a broad suite of Cadence tools, Rockley Photonics achieved first-pass success, accelerating the product’s time to market.

The Rockley Photonics device is described as “a complex system-in-package solution, comprised of discrete chiplets connected through a high-speed 112G PAM4 serial interface”. It will support optical communications management in high-speed optical networks and data centers.

To successfully complete the project, the Rockley Photonics design team required a combination of Cadence system analysis and custom tools, featuring the Clarity 3D Solver, Allegro technologies and the EMX 3D Planar Solver. The custom technologies used included the Virtuoso RF Solution and Spectre X Simulator and the Quantus Extraction System for signoff.

Optical coupling

The Cadence design tools, which work across chip, package, board and system, are said to offer “tight integration”, providing Rockley with a complete solution for system innovation. Rockley utilized the Clarity 3D Solver to analyze system-level electromagnetics effects, a task they say they could not achieve with other tools. Using the Clarity 3D Solver from within the Virtuoso RF Solution, Rockley engineers modeled the coupling between the chiplets, the board, and the high-speed transmission lines to the photonics chiplet.

In addition, the Cadence EMX 3D Planar Solver provided a differentiated electromagnetic flow that enabled Rockley to achieve “a factor of 12 performance improvement over legacy design flows.”

“At Rockley Photonics, we routinely evaluate our system design methodology so we can find ways to improve and enable our engineering team to perform at their peaks,” commented David Nelson, vice president, IC design at Rockley.

“By using the integrated Cadence flow, we were able to capture a deterioration in the 50-60GHz frequency range through its cross-fabric coupling capabilities, whereas our previous flow, which utilized a single-fabric approach, was not able to capture the deterioration.

“In addition, the Clarity 3D Solver demonstrated impressive scaling up to 128 CPUs, and the entire 100GHz cross-fabric design was extracted in just three hours.”

The Cadence system analysis and custom tools support Rockley’s broader “Intelligent System Design” strategy, providing customers with an efficient path to achieve system innovation.

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