Ayar Labs partners with GLOBALFOUNDRIES for optical I/O demo, expanded sampling for co-packaged optics

Dec. 3, 2020
The company’s optical I/O approach features 5x9-mm silicon chiplets that contain the non-laser functions of an optical transceiver, paired with disaggregated lasers.

Ayar Labs says it has successfully demonstrated its patented optical I/O technology using GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ next-generation 45-nm process platform. The demonstration with one of Ayar Labs’ strategic investors (see “Optical interconnect startup Ayar Labs closes $35 million Series B funding round”) marks the beginning of an expanded phase of sampling for 2021. The company will report the results of the demonstration at next week’s ECOC 2020 virtual event December 8, from 16:20 to 16:40 CET.

The company’s optical I/O approach features 5x9-mm silicon chiplets that contain such optical transceiver functions as modulation, clocking, multiplexing, etc., paired with disaggregated lasers, according to Hugo Saleh vice president of business development and marketing at Ayar Labs. The chiplets, which feature micro-ring resonator-based modulation capabilities, are designed to be integrated within the packaging of the semiconductor for which they provide I/O via a multi-chip module approach. The semiconductor developer can perform this co-packaging using their normal processes, whether in-house or third-party, Saleh said.

The SuperNova disaggregated lasers, meanwhile, do not have to be co-resident with the chiplets – or even with the system that houses the host semiconductor, Saleh said. System designers and/or their network operator customers may want to house them where they can be more readily and inexpensively cooled, for example. The laser/chiplet combination is designed to support transmission distances of 2 km – which would include the distance between the lasers and the chiplet, according to Saleh. The chiplet/laser combination currently can provide as much as 2 Tbps of transmission capacity with a roadmap toward more, he added.

The selection of configuration scheme clearly requires close collaboration between Ayar Labs and potential customers. Saleh says such engagements are already underway; the company’s work with Intel (another investor via Intel Capital) is already public. The engagements focus on three main applications, according to Saleh: datacom and telecommunications networking, aerospace and government, and high-performance computing and artificial intelligence. Saleh said he expects the sampling work to lead to commercialization in what he called small volumes by the end of next year or the beginning of 2022.

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