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Optical I/O Technology for Tera-Scale Computing

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8 Author(s)
Young, I.A. ; Intel Corp., Hillsboro, OR, USA ; Mohammed, E. ; Liao, J.T.S. ; Kern, A.M.
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This paper describes both a near term and a long term optical interconnect solution, the first based on a packaging architecture and the second based on a monolithic photonic CMOS architecture. The packaging-based optical I/O architecture implemented with 90 nm CMOS transceiver circuits, 1 × 12 VCSEL/detector arrays and polymer waveguides achieves 10 Gb/s/channel at 11 pJ/b. A simple TX pre-emphasis technique enables a potential 18 Gb/s at 9.6 pJ/b link efficiency. Analysis predicts this architecture to reach less than 1 pJ/b at the 16 nm CMOS technology node. A photonic CMOS process enables higher bandwidth and lower energy-per-bit for chip-to-chip optical I/O through integration of electro-optical polymer based modulators, silicon nitride waveguides and polycrystalline germanium (Ge) detectors into a CMOS logic process. Experimental results for the photonic CMOS ring resonator modulators and Ge detectors demonstrate performance above 20 Gb/s and analysis predicts that photonic CMOS will eventually enable energy efficiency better than 0.3 pJ/b with 16 nm CMOS. Optical interconnect technologies such as these using multi-lane communication or wavelength division multiplexing have the potential to achieve TB/s interconnect and enable platforms suitable for the tera-scale computing era.

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Solid-State Circuits, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:45 ,  Issue: 1 )