Tuesday, March 6, 2012

IBM Labs Develops "Holey" CMOS Optochip Hits Terabit Rates

Researchers at IBM Labs have achieved terabit data transfer speeds by fabricating tiny holes in a single quarter-inch parallel optochip. Potential applications include ultra-high interconnect bandwidth to power future supercomputer and data center applications.


The prototype optical chipset, dubbed "Holey Optochip", is the first parallel optical transceiver to hit the terabit mark.


"Reaching the one trillion bit per second mark with the Holey Optochip marks IBM's latest milestone to develop chip-scale transceivers that can handle the volume of traffic in the era of big data," said IBM Researcher Clint Schow, part of the team that built the prototype. "We have been actively pursuing higher levels of integration, power efficiency and performance for all the optical components through packaging and circuit innovations. We aim to improve on the technology for commercialization in the next decade with the collaboration of manufacturing partners."


According to IBM, the 48 holes which were fabricated through a standard silicon CMOS chip, allow optical access through the back of the chip to 24 receiver and 24 transmitter channels to produce an ultra-compact, high-performing and power-efficient optical module capable of record setting data transfer rates. The Holey Optochip achieves record speed at a power efficiency (the amount of power required to transmit a bit of information) that is among the best ever reported. The transceiver consumes less than five watts; the power consumed by a 100W light bulb could power 20 transceivers. This progress in power efficient interconnects is necessary to allow companies who adopt high-performance computing to manage their energy load while performing powerful applications such as analytics, data modeling and forecasting.


Specifically, a single 90-nanometer IBM CMOS transceiver IC with 24 receiver and 24 transmitter circuits becomes a Holey Optochip with the fabrication of forty-eight through-silicon holes, or "optical vias" – one for each transmitter and receiver channel. Twenty-four channel, industry-standard 850-nm VCSEL (vertical cavity surface emitting laser) and photodiode arrays are directly flip-chip soldered to the Optochip.
http://www.ibm.com

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