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DustPhotonics to ramp 800G silicon photonics chip

21 Feb 2024

Latest $24 million investment by venture backers will support scaling of 'Carmel' products.

DustPhotonics, the Israeli startup company that specializes in silicon photonics chips for data communications, says it has raised a further $24 million as it looks to ramp production.

The series B follow-on round follows earlier efforts that brought in close to $60 million and saw the firm pivot from an initial focus on transceivers to concentrate on the photonics technology at the heart of high-speed datacoms.

The funds, provided by Sienna Venture Capital, Greenfield Partners, Atreides Management, Exor Ventures, and others, will be used to scale up manufacturing of the firm’s “Carmel-4” and “Carmel-8” chips, used for 400 Gb/s and 800 Gb/s speed links.

DustPhotonics said that some of the support would also be used to accelerate its development of next-generation products that will enable 1.6 Tb/s connectivity.

Liquid immersion
Company CEO Ronnen Lovinger, who took over from co-founder Ben Rubovitch when the firm altered its strategy in 2021, said of the latest developments:

“We are seeing a lot of design-win momentum with our products, and are excited by the new opportunities ahead in both AI and cloud service data centers.”

Chairman Avigdor Willenz added: “Since undergoing the transition to a silicon photonics chip company from a transceiver company, I have seen the team at DustPhotonics do a tremendous job achieving their milestones on technology, products and business.

“I believe their upcoming innovations will allow them to further grow their position as a leader for next-generation merchant silicon photonics products.”

Launched at last year’s European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC) event held in Glasgow, the Carmel-8 design is described as “the industry’s first merchant 800 Gb/s silicon photonics chip”.

According to DustPhotonics, the chip’s compact dimensions makes it suitable for a wide range of transceiver designs, including the narrower and smaller QSFP-type (quad small form factor pluggable).

The company highlights the absence of any free-space optics in the Carmel-8 transmission chain, which enables a PCB hosting the chip to be immersed in coolant liquid without any deleterious effects.

“That’s because our lasers are butt-coupled to the photonic integrated circuit (PIC) and the fiber is directly attached to the PIC as well, which enables us to support this immersion cooling application,” it explains.

To show off that capability at the ECOC event, DustPhotonics placed a PCB featuring the chip in an aquarium-like display filled with off-the-shelf mineral oil used for immersion cooling on its booth (see photo below).

Key enabler for AI
On the decision to follow up its earlier investment in DustPhotonics, Isabelle Amiel-Azoulai from Sienna Venture Capital said.

“We looked at innovative technologies supporting the fast-growing AI compute market, and DustPhotonics stood out as a leader in this market due to their technology and customer traction.

“We are excited by the customer agreements and backlog that the DustPhotonics team has generated with its Carmel-4 and Carmel-8 products, and look forward to working with the DustPhotonics team to help the company in this next growth phase.”

Yuda Doron from Greenfield Partners added: “We continue to be firm believers in the prospect of silicon photonics becoming a key enabler for data centers to meet the increasingly demanding requirements brought upon by AI, as demonstrated by the company's recent momentum.”

HÜBNER PhotonicsSPECTROGON ABTRIOPTICS GmbHLaCroix Precision OpticsHyperion OpticsLASEROPTIK GmbHMad City Labs, Inc.
© 2024 SPIE Europe
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