8 March 2011
Luxtera launches silicon CMOS photonics based optical engine
Fabless CMOS silicon photonics firm Luxtera of Carlsbad, CA, USAhas announced its new optical engine chip-set supporting next-generation high-performance computing (HPC) and data-center optical connectivity. The optical engine launches Luxtera’s chip-set product line as the firm transitions from the active optical cable (AOC) business to the semiconductor component business model.
The engine supports four fully integrated 14Gbps opto-electronic transceiver channels on a single CMOS chip. Targeted at next-generation InfiniBand, Ethernet, SAS and Fibre Channel applications, it marks the next step in Luxtera’s delivery of a fully integrated, low-cost transceiver chip-set family spanning 10Gbps to 1Tbps.
Driven by next-generation CPUs and chipsets supporting PCI-Express 3.0, increasing server network performance requires faster interconnects to balance computing and storage resources and maximize system performance, says Luxtera. To meet this need, InfiniBand is migrating to 4x14Gbps FDR while storage applications are migrating to 4x12Gbps SAS and 16Gbps Fibre Channel data rates, exceeding practical limits of passive copper interconnect longer than a few meters. In turn, this drives the need for next-generation, high-performance optical connectivity. Luxtera says that, by leveraging the benefits of its silicon CMOS photonics technology, its new optical engine meets this demand with low-cost and high-performance single-chip optical transceivers. Its LUX2020A optical engine will be incorporated into the AOC product family recently purchased by high-speed fiber-optic interconnect firm Molex Inc of Lisle, IL, USA as part of Luxtera’s transition to a fabless semiconductor chip-sets supplier business model.
“The introduction of Luxtera’s optical engine marks the next step in advancement for QSFP AOCs,” says Tom Marrapode, director of marketing, fiber optic products group, Molex. “We recently formed a strategic partnership with Luxtera that outlined a product roadmap to support faster data rates and new form factors,” he adds. “Molex has been on the forefront of QSFP product family development from electrical connectors to copper and fiber cabling. Luxtera’s new optical engine and its integration into Molex’s optical transceivers extends our product family to next-generation data rates.”
Luxtera’s optical engine chip-set consist of a CMOS opto-electronic transceiver chip and a companion photonic power source. The devices are based on silicon CMOS photonics technology that uses mainstream CMOS fabrication processes to deliver on-chip waveguide level modulation and photo-detection, along with associated electronics, resulting in a fully integrated single-chip optical transceiver. The technology uses a low-cost, highly reliable companion continuous wave (CW) laser, acting as a continuous supply of photons to the chip. This allows the sharing of a single light source across multiple transmitters and eliminates the need for faster, more expensive and higher-power-consuming directly modulated lasers. Luxtera says that, by using a silicon CMOS photonics technology platform, it is able to reuse its baseline technologies to deliver next-generation higher-speed products resulting in what is claimed to be best price–performance and superior reliability versus traditional VCSEL-based optics.
“Our new optical engine once again validates the significance and capabilities of silicon CMOS photonics,” says Marek Tlalka, VP of marketing. “The technology will be delivered to end users in multiple form factors via our collaboration with Molex and other packaging partners.”
Luxtera will start sampling its new optical engine in second-quarter 2011.