For its part, Cisco bought silicon-photonics startup Lightwire (Allentown, Penns.) in February 2012 for $271 million. Cisco is expected to ship this year a 100G module in a custom package supporting the LR4 standard.
“Cisco shipping 100G Ethernet with silicon photonics will be big milestone,” said Bergey. “There are a lot of cool things on the drawing board [such as] reducing the number of [networking] layers in data center."
Lightwire’s first generation used WDM to put four 25G channels over a single fibre, said Martin of Kotura. Along with Luxtera it is pushing for use of advanced coding techniques such as eight-level pulse amplitude modulation (PAM-8) to get to 50G serial links.
IBM recently announced la work on 25G optical channels using silicon photonics using a 90 nm process. It declined a request for an interview on its work.
“Their work is more on the research side and probably further from the market,” said Bergey. “There’s a belief silicon photonics will be big for exascale supercomputers and government programs—there’s a lot of government interest here."
Rattner recalled in an online post how he first heard about silicon photonics while working as a principal investigator at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the 1980s and later as a computer architect.
“I was building parallel supercomputers at the time with thousands of electrical links between the processing nodes (see ASCI Red for reference) which DARPA dreamed of replacing with optics,” he said. “At $5,000 to $10,000 per each transceiver, those transceivers would have cost more than the entire machine including processors, memory, and storage," he wrote.
Now Intel imagines use of silicon photonics for chip-to-chip links in the distant future. Board makers, already pushing toward optical backplanes at 5 to 25 Gbits/s, would love to put the technology on their road maps, too.
Applied Micro has its own iron in the fire. The next generation of its X-Gene ARM server SoCs will build in programmable 100G networking, CEO Paramesh Gopi told EE Times.
The 2014 SoC will use inexpensive plastic fibre technology from Volex plc as a link to external nets, Gopi said. Applied announced earlier this month it sold active optical cable technology to Volex for $2 million.
on the chip level, some think Si photonics optoelectronic chips are treated unfairly as all the standards are written in accordance to III-V materials. Some of these standards may not be absolutely necessary for use in practice. It's why most Si photonics products are used in AOC which only have end-to-end electrical specs. Hopefully big players like Intel, IBM can change it.
I think the battle of standards is in form factor. Both Cisco and Intel rolled out their own connectors to compete with existing MPO connector for highly parallel optics. Intel and IBM&Avago even wanted to completely eliminate all current panel mount transceivers module such as QSFP+, CFP, etc. which is a big threat to many component&module suppliers. We'll see how it goes.
First of all, it is not to be confused with 100G used in telecom which used advanced modulation to achieve serial 100Gb/s. It's for datacom 100G which can be 10x10Gb/s or 4x25Gb/s, the former was adopted earlier but slower and seems being replaced by the latter as 25G electronics are getting ready. Most early advocates of 10x10G shifted to 4x25G now. No matter for telecom 100G or for datacomm 100GBASE, no 100Gb/s electronics is actually used or needed.
Wonderful article! What do you refer to by " there are no standards"? 100G standard is more mature than 40G, e.g. PM-QPSK modulation is the only one adopted in 100G,while there is no standard modulation method in 40G.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.