A compact and power-efficient serial I/O targeting dense silicon carrier interconnects is reported. Based on expected channel characteristics, the proposed I/O features low-impedance transmitter termination, high-impedance receiver termination, and a receiver with modified DFE with IIR filter feedback (DFE-IIR). The DFE-IIR receiver uses a single additional IIR filter feedback tap to compensate many post cursors without paying the power and area penalty that would be incurred with a conventional high tap-count DFE. Equalization capabilities of the compact I/O at 10 Gb/s are demonstrated over various channels including conventional chip-to-chip and backplane links with half-baud losses of up to 27 dB. Finally, a transmitter-receiver pair operating over a 40-mm on-chip emulated silicon carrier channel was demonstrated to 8.9 Gb/s, at a link power efficiency of 1.9 mW/Gb/s.