Intel Labs announces breakthrough in integrated photonics research – GinjFo

Intel Labs announces a breakthrough in integrated photonics research for co-packaged optics and optical computing interconnect. Intel demonstrates a tightly controlled eight-wavelength laser array on a silicon wafer, with matched power and uniform spacing.

Which is new.

Intel Labs announces a significant advance in its research into integrated photonics, the next frontier for increasing communication bandwidth between compute silicon in data centers and across networks. The latest research showcases state-of-the-art advances in multi-wavelength integrated optics, including the demonstration of a fully integrated eight-wavelength distributed feedback (DFB) laser array over a wafer of silicon and offering excellent output power uniformity of +/-0.25 decibels (dB) and wavelength spacing uniformity of ±6.5% that exceed industry specifications.

Haisheng Rong, engineer and R&D Manager at Intel Labs.

“This new research demonstrates that it is possible to achieve well-matched power output with uniform, densely spaced wavelengths. Most importantly, this can be achieved using existing manufacturing and process controls at Intel’s factories, ensuring a clear path to volume production of the next generation of co-packaged optics and interconnects. scaled optical computing. »

What it means.

This advancement will enable production of the optical source with the performance required for future high-volume applications, such as co-packaged optics and compute optical interconnect for emerging network-intensive workloads, including l artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The laser array is built on Intel’s 300 millimeter silicon photonics fabrication process to pave the way for high-volume manufacturing and wide deployment.

By 2025, Gartner predicts that over-silicon photonics will be used in more than 20% of all high-bandwidth data center communication channels, up from less than 5% in 2020, and will represent a total available market of 2. $6 billion. The growing demand for low power consumption, high bandwidth and faster data transfer drives the need for silicon photonics to support applications in data centers and beyond.

Why it matters.

Optical connections began to replace copper wires in the 1980s due to the high bandwidth inherent in transmitting light in optical fibers instead of electrical pulses, transmitted through metal wires. Since then the technology has become more efficient due to reduction in component size and cost, which has led to significant advances in recent years in the use of optical interconnects for networking solutions, typically in switches, data centers and other high performance computing environments.

With the increasing performance limits of electrical interconnects, the integration of silicon circuits and optical components side-by-side on the same package is the promise of a future input/output (I/O) interface with a better energy efficiency and greater range. These photonic technologies have been realized in Intel’s factory using existing manufacturing technologies, resulting in favorable cost reductions for large-scale manufacturing.

Recent co-packaged optical solutions using dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology have shown the promise of increasing bandwidth while dramatically reducing the physical size of photonic chips. However, until now it has been very difficult to produce DWDM light sources with uniform wavelength spacing and power.

This new advancement ensures consistent separation of light source wavelengths while maintaining uniform output power, helping to meet one of the requirements for optical computing and DWDM communication interconnect. The next generation of compute I/O using optical interconnect can be tailored to meet the extreme demands of tomorrow’s high-bandwidth AI and ML workloads.

How does it work?

Intel - 8 Laserstill Transparent

The eight-wavelength DFB array was designed and fabricated using Intel’s commercial 300mm Silicon Hybrid Photonics Platform, which is used to fabricate serial optical transceivers. This innovation marks a significant advance in laser fabrication capabilities at a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) fabrication facility using the same lithography technology used to fabricate 300mm silicon wafers with a strict process control.

For this research, Intel used advanced lithography to define the waveguide gratings in the silicon prior to the III-V wafer bonding process. This technique achieved better wavelength uniformity compared to conventional semiconductor lasers manufactured in 3 or 4 inch III-V wafer fabs. Furthermore, thanks to the tight integration of the lasers, the array also maintains the channel spacing when the ambient temperature is changed.

Next steps.

As a pioneer in silicon photonics technology, Intel is committed to developing solutions to meet the growing demand for a more efficient and resource-rich network infrastructure. The main technological building blocks under development include light generation, amplification, detection and modulation, CMOS interface circuits and package integration technologies.

In addition, many aspects of the eight-wavelength integrated laser array technology are being implemented by Intel’s silicon photonics product division as part of a future optical computing interconnect chiplet product. . This product will provide high-performance, low-power multi-terabit per second interconnection between computing resources including CPUs, GPUs and memory. The integrated laser array is a critical component to achieving a compact, cost-effective solution capable of supporting high-volume manufacturing and deployment.

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Intel Labs announces breakthrough in integrated photonics research – GinjFo


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