New Integrated Photonics Research from Intel Labs

Intel Labs has announced a major advance in integrated photonics research—the next frontier in increasing communication bandwidth between computing silicon in the data center and between networks.

The latest research demonstration of an eight wavelength distributed feedback (DFB) laser array fully integrated on a silicon wafer, offering excellent output power uniformity of +/-0.25 decibels (dB) and wavelength range uniformity of ±6.5% that exceeds the industry average. It covers industry-leading advances in multi-wavelength integrated optics, including

“This new research shows that it is possible to achieve well-matched output power with uniform and densely spaced wavelengths,” said Haisheng Rong, Senior Chief Engineer at Intel Laboratories. Most importantly, we can do this by leveraging existing production and process controls in Intel’s manufacturing facilities, thus providing a clear path to high-volume production of the next generation of co-packaged optics and optical computing interconnect at scale.” said.

Meaning:This progress is driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning It will enable the fabrication of the optical source that delivers the performance required for future high-volume applications such as co-packaged optics for emerging network-intensive workloads and optical interconnection. The laser array builds on Intel’s 300-millimetre silicon photonics fabrication process to pave the way for high-volume manufacturing and wide distribution.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, silicon photonics will create a total market of $2.6 billion and will be used in more than 20% of all high-bandwidth data center communication channels, down from 5% by 2020. The need for silicon photonics to support data center applications and beyond is driven by the growing demand for low power consumption, high bandwidth and faster data transfer.

Why Important: Due to the inherently high bandwidth of light transmission in optical fibers rather than electrical pulses transmitted through metal wires, optical connections began to replace copper cables in the 1980s. Since then, technology has become more efficient thanks to smaller component sizes and lower costs, which has resulted in advances in the use of optical interconnects for network solutions over the past few years, particularly in switches, data centers and other high-performance computing environments.

Integrating silicon circuit elements and optics in the same package holds the potential for future input/output (I/O) interfaces that increase energy efficiency and provide longer reach, despite the increasing performance limitations of electrical interconnects. These photonic technologies were developed at Intel’s manufacturing facility using already existing process technologies, which means they will have a positive impact on the costs of the manufacturing process.

Recently, co-packaged optical solutions have used DWDM technology, and these solutions show promise in increasing bandwidth while greatly reducing the physical size of photonic devices. However, producing DWDM light sources with uniform wavelength range and power has been extremely difficult until recently.

This new advancement meets one of the requirements for optical computing connectivity and DWDM communication by guaranteeing consistent wavelength separation of light sources while maintaining uniform output power. The edge demands of tomorrow’s high-bandwidth AI and machine learning applications can be specifically met by next-generation computing I/O that leverages optical interconnect.

Working Style: The 300mm hybrid silicon photonics platform used by Intel to manufacture optical transceivers in large quantities was used to design and build the eight wavelength DFB array. This breakthrough represents a significant advance in laser fabrication capabilities in a high-volume complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) factory that leverages lithography technology used to produce 300mm silicon wafers with tight process control.

For this research, Intel used advanced lithography to describe waveguide networks in silicon prior to the III-V wafer bonding process. This method resulted in an improvement in wavelength uniformity compared to conventional semiconductor lasers produced in 3-inch or 4-inch III-V wafer factories. The array also maintains channel spacing when ambient temperature changes as a result of tight integration of lasers.

What’s next: As a pioneer in silicon photonics technology, Intel is committed to creating solutions to meet the growing demand for an efficient and effective network infrastructure. Light generation, amplification, sensing, modulation, CMOS interface circuits, and packet integration technologies are among the key technology building blocks currently under development.

In addition, many aspects of the eight-wavelength integrated laser array technology are being implemented by Intel’s Silicon Photonics Products Division as part of its future optical computing interconnect chip product. This new product to be launched on the market; It will offer power-efficient, high-performance, multi-terabit-per-second interconnection between computing resources, including CPUs, GPUs and memory. The integrated laser array is a critical element in achieving a compact and cost-effective solution that supports high-volume production and distribution.

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