SAN JOSE, Calif. Startup Banpil Photonics, Inc. claimed Monday (Nov. 13) it has demonstrated a way to send 10Gbits/second signals 1.5 meters across a standard pc-board without using power-hogging techniques to amplify the signal. The demo included sending 20 Gbit/s signals one meter between chips.
"This is a significant breakthrough, because it is a purely electrical solution requiring significantly less power to drive the signal over long interconnects," said Dr. Achyut Dutta, chief executive of Banpil (Santa Clara, Calif.).
Both demos included pushing the signals over two connectors. Most demos at these data rates are limited to a few inches in length and typically use signal pre-emphasis and equalization techniques that can draw an additional 30-40 percent power.
Banpil's method "is completely passive. It uses no equalization or pre-emphasis and its independent of the transmit and receive chips," said Dutta.
The company is working with one unnamed pc-board maker to deliver pilot products in 2007 and commercial products in the first half of 2008.
Banpil's approach uses standard FR4 board materials and processes, however it does require a novel design tool chain. Banpil has created a unique RF simulation, layout and modeling tool chain based on two tools from unnamed EDA vendors and a tool designed in house.
"To let others do these designs, we will need to get a Cadence or Mentor to make these tools," said Dutta, who has started talks with two unnamed companies about creating such tools.
Current design tools are limited to developing interconnects that run at less than 5 Gbits/s, Dutta said. Part of the company's unique approach is that it treats high-speed signals as radio waves.
"This is completely RF. All electrical signals are RF signals, really," Dutta said.
"Our techniques could be implemented within a chip, but right now we are just looking at chip-to-chip links," he added.
Although Banpil has not disclosing its technology, a February patent application Dutta submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office provides some hints.
The pending patent describes a method for creating an open trench or slot as part of a single- or multi-layer dielectric system to reduce microwave signal loss.
A "large portion of the signal (electromagnetic wave) is allowed to pass through the air or dielectric material having the dielectric loss less than the base dielectric material itself," the application states.
"The trench or back-slot of the dielectric system can be filled with air or kept in vacuum. Alternatively the trench can be filled with the liquid crystal material, which can tune the dielectric constant and loss...(or) with the coolant to cool the PCB," said the patent application.
"The backside trenchcan be opened by the laser drilling, mechanical drilling, wet-etching, or dry-etching techniques," the document added.
Banpil's business model calls for the small company to license its intellectual property. About eight engineers have been working on the high-speed interconnect since the company was formed in January 2003.
Banpil is also developing multi-spectral image sensors and high-efficiency photovoltaic technologies. The company has lived to date on a number of undisclosed government grants and has not taken any venture capital.