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Optical technology for energy efficient I/O in high performance computing

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8 Author(s)

Future high-performance computing systems will require optical I/O to achieve their aggressive bandwidth requirements of multiple terabytes per second with energy efficiency better than 1 pJ/b. Near-term optical I/O solutions will integrate optical and electrical components in the package, but longer-term solutions will integrate photonic elements directly into the CMOS chip to further improve bandwidth and energy efficiency. The presented near-term optical I/O uses a customized package to assemble CMOS integrated transceiver circuits, discrete VCSEL/detector arrays, and polymer waveguides. Circuit simulations predict this architecture will achieve energy efficiency better than 1 pJ/b at the 16 nm CMOS technology node. Monolithic photonic CMOS process technology enables higher bandwidth and improved energy efficiency 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 (RR) modulators and Ge detectors demonstrate performance at up to 40 Gb/s and analysis predicts that photonic CMOS will eventually enable energy efficiency of 0.3 pJ/b with 16 nm CMOS. Optical interconnect technologies with multilane communication or wavelength-division multiplexing will further increase bandwidth to provide the multiple-terabyte-per-second optical interconnect solution that enables scaling of high-performance computing into and beyond the tera-scale era.

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Communications Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 10 )