Analog/Mixed Signal

SEMICON West 2018: Imec Announces Hybrid FinFET-Silicon Photonics Technology for Ultra-Low Power Optical I/O

10 July 2018

At SEMICON West 2018, Imec announced the design of ultra-low power, high-bandwidth optical transceivers through hybrid integration of silicon photonics and FinFET CMOS technologies. The announcement took place during Imec Technology Forum USA, a symposium attended by more than 300 world experts.

Photographs of the FinFET-silicon photonics transceiver assembly. Souce: ImecPhotographs of the FinFET-silicon photonics transceiver assembly. Souce: Imec

The 40 Gb/s non-return-to-zero (NRZ) optical transceivers offer a dynamic power consumption of only 230 fJ/bit and a footprint of just 0.025 mm2.These mark an important milestone in realizing ultra-dense, multi-terabyte per second optical I/O solutions for next-generation, high-performance computing applications. The structure of the transceivers consists of a differential FinFET driver with a silicon photonics ring modulator.

The receiver design included a FinFET trans-impedance amplifier (TIA) optimized for operation with a germanium waveguide photodiode, enabling 40 Gb/s NRZ photodetection with an estimated sensitivity of -10 dBm at 75 fJ/bit power consumption. The transmitter is a 4 x 40 Gb/s, 0.1mm2 wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) with integrated thermal control. The device is expected to scale bandwidth beyond 100 Gb/s per fiber.

“The demonstrated hybrid FinFET-Silicon Photonics platform integrates high-performance 14 nm FinFET CMOS circuits with imec’s 300 mm Silicon Photonics technology through dense, low-capacitance Cu micro-bumps. Careful co-design in this combined platform has enabled us to demonstrate 40 Gb/s NRZ optical transceivers with extremely low power consumption and high bandwidth density,” says Joris Van Campenhout, director of the optical I/O R&D program at Imec.

“Through design optimizations, we expect to further improve the single-channel data rates to 56 Gb/s NRZ. Combined with wavelength-division multiplexing, these transceivers provide a scaling path to ultra-compact, multi-Tb/s optical interconnects, which are essential for next-generation high-performance systems.”

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