COSMICC project leverages silicon nitride for 100-Gbps optical module

June 25, 2020
According to project member CEA-LETI, the approach offers a path toward low-cost, low-power, reduced complexity optical engines for data center and supercomputer applications requiring capacity beyond terabits per second.

Members of the EU H2020 COSMICC (CmOs Solutions for Mid-board Integrated transceivers with breakthrough Connectivity at ultra-low Cost) project have demonstrated a fully packaged 2x50-Gbps CWDM optical transceiver module that leverages broadband, temperature-insensitive silicon nitride (SiN) multiplexing components on silicon (Si), the integration of hybrid III-V/Si lasers on the Si/SiN chips, and a high-count adiabatic fiber-coupling technique via SiN and polymer waveguides. According to project member CEA-LETI, the approach offers a path toward low-cost, low-power, reduced complexity optical engines for data center and supercomputer applications requiring capacity beyond terabits per second.

SiN is 10X less sensitive to temperature than silicon, say the project members. Use of the technology can therefore significantly reduce transceiver cost and power consumption by eliminating the need for temperature control through reduced heat output. The CWDM module features a silicon photonic chip that integrates 50-Gbps NRZ optical modulators and photodetectors, and a two-channel CWDM multiplexer and demultiplexer. The control electronics exhibits an optimized energy consumption level of 5.7 pJ/bit per channel at the 50-Gbps data rate.

Project participants also have created the building blocks necessary to enable a 4x50G device. They’ve developed a library of building blocks for higher data-rate data center interconnects as well. The developments leveraged STMicroelectronics’ silicon photonics integration platform.

“The new building blocks are essential for addressing the need for terabit-per-second transceivers at low cost and low energy consumption to sustain the exponential growth of data traffic in data centers and in high-performance computing systems,” stated CEA-Leti scientist Ségolène Olivier, who coordinated the EU project. “COSMICC’s technology will answer tremendous market needs with a target cost per bit that traditional WDM transceivers cannot meet.”

In addition to CEA-LETI and STMicroelectronics (Italy and France), COSMICC members include Vario-Optics, Seagate, Finisar/II-VI, Université Paris Sud, Universita di Pavia, University of Southampton Optical Research Center, University of Saint Andrews, Cork Institute of Technology, and consultants Ayming.

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