LONDON Communications chip specialist Phyworks (Bristol, England) has taped out and will soon start sampling a generation of transceivers designed in CMOS instead of the traditionally employed SiGe process technology for optical transceivers.
According to Stephen King, Phyworks CEO, the company is the first that will be able to offer both 10G transceivers and equalizer technology in CMOS, leading the way to much needed tighter integration for communications devices.
"Behind this move is the fact that every time you step up a generation in data rate performance, design and manufacturing costs for the transceiver need to remain the same to remain competitive with the previous generation. CMOS now provides the performance needed for high data rates such as 10G and is on par with SiGe as regards manufacturing, as well as offering lower reduced power operation", said King.
Crucially, CMOS also provides an integration roadmap for future technology developments that SiGe simply cannot, he suggests.
"Transceiver design is much harder in CMOS, but we have the expertise having designed and made equalizers in the process for several years. I suspect others will join the fray, but few will have the advantage we do of integration since many of our competitors either have to buy in equalization technology, or must leave it to their customers to add such capability", King told EE Times .
Initial CMOS based transceiver products to be taped out during Q2 and Q3 of 2009 include a multi-rate 1-10Gbps optical transceiver for 10GBASE-SR and 1-8.5G storage markets, a low power 10G copper cable transceiver / equaliser for 5m-15m active copper cables and a 10G PON transceiver with burst mode laser drive capability and optional equalizer capability.
The parts will be made by TSMC in its 130-nm CMOS process, already used for equalizers, but King said other foundries may also be used.
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