August 15, 2005 Carlsbad, CA -- Luxtera claims to have solved the longstanding problem of building ultra-high-density optical modulators into mass-produced silicon chips. The company says it's manufacturing optical modulators much smaller than electrical drivers, with an equivalent data-rate, using an industry-standard CMOS fabrication process.
Luxtera says its 10-Gbit/sec optical CMOS ring modulator has a radius of 30 microns, and can be used to build CMOS optical transceivers that will eventually scale to 100 Gbit/sec and 1 Terabit, using DWDM technology. The company says that the area of silicon used in its modulator is 100x smaller than the area used in electrical interfaces, with the same bandwidth and reach, at a fraction of the power. The company says its transceivers can send and receive data on optical fibers at a distance of 2 km. The company says the modulators will be integrated with standard digital circuitry, and that its CMOS photonics technology will give computer and communications OEMs the performance benefits of optical-fiber communications, delivered with the economics of silicon.
"This development of the world's first ring modulator in CMOS is a fantastic milestone for Luxtera and for our partners," comments Alex Dickinson, co-founder and CEO of Luxtera. "We have reached a point that was considered impossible - where optical interfaces can be faster and much smaller than their electrical counterparts, while preserving the economy of silicon. At speeds of 10 Gbit/sec or higher, system designers must now focus on optical interconnect, or risk falling behind the competition by limiting their interconnect choice to copper."
The company says its CMOS Photonics technology delivers the optical modulation required for practical high-speed optical fiber communication and the small dimensions required by future chip designers. The company says its chips are built in the same CMOS process that its development partner, Freescale Semiconductor, uses for mass producing their PowerPC-based microprocessors.
"This achievement came much earlier than expected, signaling how far ahead our technology is," remarks Cary Gunn, co-founder and vice president of technology for Luxtera. "We are seeing a revolution in the making, with all the problems of electrical connectivity going away. We have a new method that will deliver better performances for decades."
"Microprocessor interfaces struggled for years to make small incremental steps in speed," concludes Kevin Krewell, editor-in-chief of In-Stat's Microprocessor Report. "Luxtera has an exciting technology that could eventually bring extremely high-bandwidth optical connectivity directly into the CPU, and do so in a cost- and silicon-efficient manner."