Data Center Routing ASIC from Rockley Photonics
Disruptive low power solution is designed to offer 100X improvement in interconnect reach.
Rockley Photonics has announced that it is demonstrating its in-package-optics platform to select customers and development partners. Rockley has developed the world’s first single-chip L3 routing switch to directly integrate 100G network ports using single-mode fiber.
Leveraging Rockley OpticsDirect™ technology, this platform is among the first of its kind to integrate high-speed optical interconnect with high-scale CMOS digital and mixed-signal circuits. The switching application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) employs unique low-power custom circuitry to interface to Rockley-developed photonic chips. Advanced technology for fiber-optic assembly delivers significantly lower power than conventional ASICs that use electrical IO and external optical transceiver modules. By driving optical fiber directly from the package, the Rockley product can directly connect to devices placed 500 meters away, offering a 100x improvement over today’s ASICs using all-electrical IO.
The Rockley Photonics platform employs innovative technologies while leveraging established assembly processes to deliver a novel solution that is both highly advanced, while suitable for high-scale manufacturing. The product employs an L3 routing ASIC designed by Rockley Photonics and silicon photonics chips manufactured on a Rockley proprietary process. The switch ASIC and silicon photonics ICs are placed into a customized package enabling fiber-optic links to connect directly into the assembly. Innovative mixed-signal circuit designs enable the photonics ICs to be driven directly by the ASIC without additional chips.
The Rockley solution was developed in cooperation with major industry partners to be suitable for rapid transition to manufacturing scale. The ASIC was manufactured in TSMC 28nm process technology. The package substrate manufacture, chip assembly and test was performed by IBM. The silicon photonics ICs were manufactured by established third-party fabrication houses using Rockley Photonics’ advanced process. The final assembly was performed by Fabrinet.
The Rockley Photonics demonstration involves multiple ports of 100G directly connected using single mode fiber with 25G optical modulation. The integrated Rockley single-chip switch provides Ethernet MAC capability, plus packet processing, packet buffering, and L3 routing between ports. The Rockley switch reference platform exhibits very low power consumption, with significant power savings enabled by the direct fiber-optic interconnect. This approach significantly reduces data center CapEX, OpEX and TCO.
Although the demonstration leverages a Rockley-designed ASIC, the OpticsDirect™ platform can enable any customer ASIC platform to become ‘optics enabled’. Rockley Photonics plans to partner with third-party developers of digital ASICs to develop all-optical product designs, combining Rockley Photonics technology with world-leading digital ASIC architectures.
The Rockley platform is well suited to any application requiring highly efficient high-speed interfaces from 25G per lane and beyond. This includes data center switching, server controller and storage endpoints, cluster computing and HPC, and deep-learning applications. Outside the data center, the technology is well suited to applications requiring connectivity beyond the reach of copper cables, such as passive optical networking (PON), mobile-front haul networks, and advanced 5G mobile compute infrastructure.