SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Carriers are not expected to deploy next-generation, 80-gigabits-per-second networks for some time, but chip makers are already hitting some major roadblocks with the technology.
The problem is that there are no viable chip-level or process-technology solutions for 80-Gbps applications--at least for now, warned Greg Winner, senior vice president of engineering and quality for Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) of San Diego.
The speeds of the network are increasing by a factor of four, which is much faster than the breakthroughs in chip technology, Winner said. "Process technology is not moving fast enough," he said during a presentation at the DesignCon 2002 conference in Santa Clara on Wednesday.
Right now, there are several process technologies that are vying for the 80-Gbps space, including silicon germanium (SiGe), indium phosphide (InP), and gallium arsenide (GaAs).
Asked if SiGe is ready for these networking speeds, Winner said: "That's not possible."
Other technologies are getting closer. Continuing the battle for speed records, an InP specialist recently claimed to have run a 1:4 demultiplexer at 80-Gbps, besting the 56-Gbps mark set by a SiGe solution last year.
Startup Inphi Corp. actually ran a 40-Gbps clock in InP but managed to get an 80-Gbps transmission through the use of a clock doubling technique. IBM Corp. employed the same "half-speed" technique used to reach 56-Gbps in a SiGe multiplexer-demultiplexer pair (see Jan. 24 story ).