Luxtera introduces silicon CMOS photonics-based optical engine

Luxtera, maker of silicon CMOS photonics, announced its new optical engine chip set supporting next-generation, high-performance computing (HPC) and data center optical connectivity. The optical engine launches Luxtera’s chip-set product line as the company transitions from the active optical cable (AOC) business to the semiconductor component business model.

Luxtera, maker of silicon CMOS photonics, announced its new optical engine chip set supporting next-generation, high-performance computing (HPC) and data center optical connectivity. The optical engine launches Luxtera’s chip-set product line as the company transitions from the active optical cable (AOC) business to the semiconductor component business model.

The engine supports four integrated 14 Gbps opto-electronic transceiver channels on a single CMOS chip. It is targeted at next-generation InfiniBand, Ethernet, SAS, and Fibre Channel applications.

Increasing server network performance, driven by next-generation CPUs and chip sets supporting PCI Express 3.0, requires faster interconnects to balance computing and storage resources and maximize system performance, says a company representative. To meet this need, InfiniBand is migrating to 4x14 Gbps FDR while storage applications are migrating to 4x12 Gbps SAS and 16 Gbps Fibre Channel data rates--pushing past practical limits of passive copper interconnect longer than a few meters.

Luxtera’s LUX2020A optical engine will be incorporated into the AOC product family recently purchased by Molex Inc. as part of Luxtera’s transition to a fabless semiconductor chip-sets supplier business model.

“The introduction of Luxtera’s optical engine marks the next step in advancement for QSFP AOCs,” says Tom Marrapode, director of marketing, fiber-optic products group, Molex. “We recently formed a strategic partnership with Luxtera that outlined a product roadmap to support faster data rates and new form factors.”

Luxtera’s optical engine chip-set portfolio consists of a CMOS opto-electronic transceiver chip and a companion photonic power source. These devices are based on silicon CMOS photonics technology that utilizes mainstream CMOS fabrication processes to deliver on-chip waveguide level modulation and photo-detection, along with associated electronics, resulting in an integrated single chip optical transceiver.

The technology uses a low-cost companion Continuous Wave (CW) laser, acting as a continuous supply of photons to the chip--analogous to electrical power supplies in electronic applications. This allows the sharing of a single light source across multiple transmitters and eliminates the need for faster, more expensive, and higher power-consuming directly modulated lasers.

“Our new chip-set product line… is the next step in our drive to lead the industry in low cost 100 Gbps and Terabit per second optical connectivity for computing and data center applications,” says Marek Tlalka, vice president of marketing for Luxtera. “The technology will be delivered to end users in multiple form factors via our collaboration with Molex and other packaging partners.”

Luxtera will start sampling its new optical engine in Q2 of this year.

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