FEBRUARY 25, 2008 -- Lightwire Inc., a developer of CMOS photonics interconnects, today introduced what it claims is the industry's first CMOS photonics 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) SFP+ LRM optical module, the LSME10XX. Concurrently, the company announced its plans to use its patented CMOS photonics technology to deliver high-bandwidth devices at the 10-, 40-, and 100-Gbit/sec bandwidth rates.
The new plug-and-play multisource agreement (MSA) compliant module is used to connect servers and network equipment in Ethernet networks at distances up to 220 m. The company says the device reduces operating power requirements by more than half with high signal integrity and a wider operating temperature range compared to currently available 10GbE optoelectronic products.
Lightwire chief executive officer Vijay Albuquerque says that "the superior operating characteristics made possible by CMOS photonics technology will enable Lightwire SFP+ products to break the power and density constraints now limiting widespread deployment of SFP+ modules in next-generation networking equipment," citing the power consumption, signal integrity problems, and performance issues over temperature ranges of current SFP+ offerings. "Lightwire's SFP+ modules are designed to address the requirements of the high-density 10-Gbit network infrastructure in the next-generation data center and other Ethernet-based networks," he explains.
"We use an advanced Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI) approach that is a major breakthrough in CMOS photonics design," said Kal Shastri, PhD, Lightwire founder and chief technology officer. "Unlike other silicon photonic approaches, our technology applies a patent protected SISCAP (Semiconductor Insulator Semiconductor CAPacitor) structure that maximizes the overlap between photons and electrons in the CMOS technology." He says the SISCAP structure enables the high-bandwidth signal modulation with very low power consumption. The scalable structure also allows the design to be moved from 130 nm down to 45 nm and smaller geometries to keep pace between interconnect bandwidth and processing technology developments.
The Lightwire LSME10XX 10Gb SFP+ LRM optical module is the first product based on Lightwire's CMOS photonics process jointly developed with Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., announced last November. The new CMOS photonics device technology integrates light modulation circuitry into silicon, enabling high-volume, low-cost production CMOS fabrication techniques to be used to produce high-bandwidth optical components. Lightwire uses Chartered's current high-volume CMOS process technologies to manufacture its devices.
"Lightwire's approach is fundamentally different from other silicon photonics products on the market," says Karen Liu, PhD, vice president at market researcher Ovum RHK. "It has set out to solve the right critical problem, which is reducing power dissipation, which in turn comes down to tackling signal integrity and compatibility with digital CMOS drive circuitry from the ground up. It's very new technology but it can be adopted immediately since it is being brought to market as a standards-based LRM transceiver. System OEMs have been waiting for the LRM for many years but it just hasn't been possible to fit in the EDC power without reducing the optics power. Going beyond that, Lightwire's approach is eminently suited to parallel products, such as 4x10-Gbit or 4x25-Gbit." She concludes, "The industry is now looking eagerly for breakthroughs to reach 40- and 100-Gbit/sec bandwidth with practical power, size, and cost."
Lightwire's near-term plans include using these building blocks to introduce a range of standard long-reach (10- to 40-km) products for the Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and SONET protocols as well as short-reach (10- to 30-m) products using SFP+ active cable solutions. The next stage will be multichannel solutions that share a single laser to provide multichannel links at 40 to 100 Gbits/sec.
The LSME1085 10-Gbit SFP+ LRM optical module is available for customer evaluation immediately with production units scheduled for the second half of 2008.