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Although there is still a lot of innovation in traditional copper-based interconnects, including the recently announced UCIe chiplet standard, in the last few years the industry has also increasingly started to instead use light (or optics), especially in the datacenter. Some even argue that copper is close to reaching a memory wall.
In that regard, silicon photonics has proven to be superior regarding cost, power consumption and bandwidth as an inter-package to long-range interconnect. At Optical Fiber Conference2022, several announcements were made as the next step towards making silicon photonics truly ubiquitous.
Ranovus demonstrates 800G interconnect for co-packaged optics
Ranovus has announced and demonstrated a co-packaged optics platform, called Analog-Drive CPO 2.0, based on its Odin 800 Gbps architecture. The product is a collaboration with TE Connectivity, which was responsible for the fine pitch socket interposer technology.
Since the advent of silicon photonics in the data center about half a decade ago, optics-based interconnects are slowly becoming more ubiquitous in the data center, as integration and volume production have reduced its cost compared to discrete optics and copper. The next evolution is to integrate the transceivers even closer to the switches, which could further reduce power. This is called co-packaged optics (CPO). Silicon photonics engines could also be integrated with other silicon such as AI accelerators to reduce the power and cost of data transmission.
The CPO solution that Ranovus demonstrated is based on its Odin silicon photonics engine, which delivers 100 Gbps per wavelength and consists of electro-photonic integrated circuit cores, a laser platform and advanced packaging. The engine scales from 800Gbps to 3.2Tbps, although the demonstration was at 800Gbps. The co-packaged aspect is achieved through TE’s interposer technology, which allows for integration of the photonics engines with an ASIC. Ranovus said the technology is being trialed throughout the industry.
It should be noted, though, that Ranovus isn’t the only company working on co-packaged optics. For example, in 2020, Intel announced a similar demonstration of co-packaged optics in combination with its Barefoot Network Tofino ethernet switch. Intel aims to commercialize the technology by the end of 2023 starting at 50Tbps switches, which is twice as much bandwidth as the current state of the art.
Ranovus demonstrates co-packaged optics combined with Xilinx Versal
In a similar spirit as the previous demonstration, Ranovus also demonstrated its 800G CPO 2.0 platform together with a Xilinx Versal FPGA, aimed at AI/ML workloads. Ranovus said this reduced power as well as cost by simplifying board routing. Ranovus told EETimes it expected the cost to be about one-tenth of a regular $800 400G module and that the power consumption was reduced by at least 10W, consuming just 4W.
“We have been at the forefront 2 of the CPO movement since 2018 and are delighted to share our multidisciplinary IP cores with our customers who want to accelerate the adoption of Analog Drive CPO in data centers,” said Hamid Arabzadeh, chairman and CEO of Ranovus.
“We’re proud of our collaboration with Ranovus that helped achieve record performance levels while at the same time reducing power and overall footprint of the complete solution,” said Dan Mansur, vice president of the adaptable and embedded computing group at AMD (formerly Xilinx). “This CPO demonstration highlights the versatility of the Versal GTM SERDES to operate over anything from long-reach copper to directly driving the Ranovus Analog-Drive CPO 2.0 optical engine. Co-packaging Ranovus Odin™ with Xilinx Versal is a significant advancement, which enables data center customers to build highly efficient and cost-effective systems for next-generation workloads.”
Ranovus delivers 100G optical I/O cores based on GlobalFoundries’ Fotonix platform
Lastly, Ranovus announced the availability of its protocol-agnostic Odin 100G optical I/O core, which was used in the two demonstrations described above. It is based on GlobalFoundries’ Fotonix silicon photonics platform that combines photonics and RF-CMOS on a 300mm silicon wafer.
As the name implies, the Odin 100G core delivers 100Gbps bandwidth per wavelength. Ranovus further says that it is scalable from 8 to 32 cores in a package, which means it can deliver up to 3.2Tbps in total. The core is available as optical I/O chiplets or IP core, and as such can be integrated with processors, switches and memory appliances. This allows the technology to address a variety of segments including AI/ML, metaverse, cloud, 5G communications, defense and aerospace.
GlobalFoundries itself announced its Fotonix platform at Optical Fiber Conference 2022 along with multiple customer wins such as Broadcom, Cisco and Nvidia. Together, its customers encompass nearly all leading contenders in (silicon) photonics, with the exception of Intel. GlobalFoundries said the platform scales up to 500Gbps per fiber. The first PDK will be available in April.
“Silicon photonics is now recognized as a necessary technology for the datacenter revolution, and our leading semiconductor manufacturing technology platform accelerates adoption into the mainstream,” said Amir Faintuch, senior vice president and general manager of compute and wired infrastructure at GlobalFoundries.