IBM has announced what it calls a significant milestone in the development of silicon photonics technology. Its engineers have designed and tested a fully integrated wavelength multiplexed silicon photonics chip which supports data rates of up to 100Gbit/s.

"Making silicon photonics technology ready for widespread commercial use will help the semiconductor industry keep pace with ever-growing demands in computing power driven by Big Data and cloud services," said Arvind Krishna, director of IBM Research.

IBM engineers in New York and Zurich have demonstrated a reference design targeting datacentre interconnects with a range up to 2km. This chip demonstrates transmission and reception of high speed data using four laser 'colours', each operating as an independent 25Gbit/s optical channel. Within a full transceiver design, these four channels can be wavelength multiplexed on chip to provide an aggregate bandwidth of 100Gbit/s over a duplex single mode fibre.

IBM says its CMOS Integrated Nanophotonics Technology will provide a cost effective silicon photonics solution by combining optical and electrical components, as well as structures enabling fibre packaging, on a chip and manufacturing the device using sub 100nm technology.