With no known manufacturable solution for realizing high-bandwidth I/O between CMOS-based IC’s, Imec is launching a new industrial affiliation program to explore the use of optical solutions. According to the ITRS roadmap, the aggregate data rate for off-chip communication is expected to exceed 100Tb/s by 2020. Silicon photonics has been identified as a key solution candidate.
Imec said that the program includes a two-fold path-finding effort. In the first instance the complete electrical-to-optical-to-electrical (E-O-E) transmission path will be modeled against existing solutions to help optimize bandwidth density, power consumption, thermal robustness and cost at the system level.
Secondly, demonstrators of the full optical link will be realized in silicon, including all required components such as optical modulators, germanium-based photodetectors, and thermally robust optical multiplexers, as well as their CMOS-based driving and receiving circuits.
imec said that its associated lab INTEC at Ghent University have a track record in demonstrating the performance of silicon-based optical devices for high-speed data transmission, using silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrates, which will form the basis of the new research.