Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Featured Article

Corning, Kaiam Demo Optical Interconnect

March 29, 2017

In August, Diane Bryant, Intel’s general manager of data centers, got a lot of coverage when she commented that “We see a future where silicon photonics and optical input/outfit is everywhere in the data center. And then integrated into the switch and the control of silicon.”

That appears to be where things are headed.

Just look at what Corning Inc. and Kaiam Corp. were up to at the recent Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition. The fiber company paired up with the eight-year-old Newark, Calif., outfit to stage a demonstration illustrating that converting high-speed signals to optical within a switch package cuts in half chip interconnect power consumption.

The demo leveraged  an optical engine and single-mode fiber interface connector from Corning. It also employed the Kaiam Co-Packaged Photonic Interconnect.

It interoperated at 25 gigabits per second per λ with a standard CWDM4 transceiver. Multiple CoPPhI engines were co-packaged in close proximity to the four sides of a switch ASIC to support more than 12T terabits per second of optical connectivity. Single-mode fibers interfaced to the engine using a low-profile, precision connector compatible with electronic packaging and assembly processes including solder reflow.

“This is not just a nice-to-have,” said Kaiam Vice President of Marketing Rob Kalman, “this will be a must-have a couple of Ethernet switch generations down the road. On-board optics such as COBO allow the industry to explore post-pluggable usage models but still require power-hungry electrical interfaces.”

That, he added, eliminates power and addresses the cost and density requirements of hyperscale data centers. While thermal stability has been a challenge for fiber components, he said, Corning is working to deliver single-mode stability for multi-fiber connectors in a package that aligns with what’s needed by chip packages.

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