12 April 2012

EU project claims progress towards terabit links on chip

An EU funded research project claims to have demonstrated that chips with built in lasers can use multiple wavelengths to transmit data at terabit speeds.
The Wadimos – Wavelength division multiplexed photonic layer on CMOS – project set out to develop a demonstration chip with multiplexing optical interconnects. The chip was based on technology developed by the PICMOS project, which created the first microchip to feature integrated microlaser light sources. This used a bonding 'glue' developed by the PICMOS partners.

"PICMOS was a great success," said Dries Van Thourhout from the Wadimos project. "We showed that optical interconnects could be manufactured and that they would work. But it is one thing to make and demonstrate something in the lab; you won't get chips like these into the mainstream unless you can manufacture them at the industrial scale. Wadimos is proving that multiplexing is possible and that the chips can be made in a standard cmos fab."
The partners, including STMicroelectronics, CEA-LETI, the Lyon Institute of Nanotechnology, the University of Trento, Mapper Technology and imec, have produced a network of eight fully interconnected silicon blocks. The team has demonstrated successful multiplexing across these connections and the feasibility of optical filtering to direct and control the passage of photons through the silicon interconnects and their subsequent detection.
"We expect the Wadimos interconnects to allow computer processing power to continue to increase and overcome the data transmission bottleneck," said Van Thourhout. WOur goal is to make optical interconnects a standard technology that will support the development of microprocessors capable of transferring data at rates of 100Tbit/s."

Graham Pitcher

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