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Progress in Low-Power Switched Optical Interconnects

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15 Author(s)
Ashok V. Krishnamoorthy ; Sun Laboratories, Oracle, San Diego, USA ; Keith W. Goossen ; William Jan ; Xuezhe Zheng
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Optical links have successfully displaced electrical links when their aggregated bandwidth-distance product exceeds ~100 Gb/s-m because their link energy per bit per unit distance is lower. Optical links will continue to be adopted at distances of 1 m and below if link power falls below 1 pJ/bit/m. Providing optical links directly to a switching/routing chip can significantly improve the switched energy/bit. We present an early experimental switched CMOS-vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) system operating at Gigabit Ethernet line rates that achieves a switched interconnect energy of less than 19 pJ/bit for a fully nonblocking network with 16 ports and an aggregate capacity of 20 Gb/s/port. The CMOS-VCSEL switch achieves an optical bandwidth density of 37 Gb/s/mm2 even when operating at a modest line rate of 1.25 Gb/s and is capable of scaling to much higher peak bandwidth densities (~350 Gb/s/mm2) with 5-10 pJ/switched bit. We also review a silicon photonic system design that will lower link energies to 300 fJ/bit, while providing multiterabits per second per square millimeter bandwidth densities. This system will ultimately provide switched optical interconnect at less than a picojoule per switched bit and computer/router system energies of tens of picojoule per bit. We review progress made to date on the silicon photonic components and analyze an energy and bandwidth-density roadmap for future advances toward these goals.

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 2 )