1 April 2010


VectraWave’s first 40G circuit designed using TowerJazz’s SiGe BiCMOS

Fabless company VectraWave SA of Les Loges en Josas, France, which provides RFICs and system-in-package devices for optical and microwave communication equipment makers, has designed its first 40Gb/s high-speed coder circuit using a silicon germanium (SiGe) BiCMOS process.

Specialty foundry TowerJazz of Migdal Haemek, Israel says that VectraWave chose its SBC18HX process over indium phosphide (InP) — the traditional material of choice for 40G circuits — due to its advantage of integrating digital circuits on the same die, enabling lower cost, lower power consumption, better temperature compensation and smaller total board area. SBC18HX also provides a wide variety of optimized process options and a well defined path to higher performance while maintaining existing analog IP, says TowerJazz.

VectraWave is developing a family of products including 43Gb/s high-speed logic integrated circuits with a sub-family of 43Gb/s high-speed coders, including demonstrating a unique NRZ to RZ-DPSK coder operating at up to 43Gb/s in a surface of less than 1mm2. Applications include data synchronization and fiber transmission. The markets for VectraWave’s devices are high-speed logic circuits for RF communication equipment, long-haul/ultra-long-haul and metro access 10–100Gbb/s optical networks. Its family of high-speed coders allows the conversion of 5–43Gb/s NRZ standard bit rates to the specific coding format required by the optical fiber transmission link.

VectraWave’s 40G devices are using TowerJazz’s SBC18HX process variant with 155GHz fT NPN transistor technology. Future opportunities for next-generation products include levering the foundry’s 200GHz process for further high-speed logic functions and improved performance. Since SiGe BiCMOS is manufactured using mainstream 200mm wafers, new 40G circuits can leverage all of the advantages of this process to deliver superior reliability and ruggedness, says TowerJazz. In contrast, InP chip fabrication is generally on 75mm wafers (and occasionally on 100mm wafers) and is subject to brittleness and reliability concerns, claims the firm.

“By choosing TowerJazz as our foundry partner, we were able to realize many advantages with their SiGe BiCMOS process over traditional InP solutions, including reduced cost, lower power consumption and smaller die size,” says VectraWave’s co-founder & president Yan Haentjens. “We also enjoyed the benefits of the company’s high degree of flexibility, reliability and support,” he adds. “We required a partner that was focused on high-speed process technologies with a long-term roadmap that aligned with our product needs.” The fact that TowerJazz offers successive generations of its SiGe BiCMOS process shouldl help VectraWave to continue developing designs as it focuses on capturing market share with next-generation products, the firm reckons.

“Our range of technology and features allows them to create differentiated high-speed products while taking advantage of our modular 0.18-micron SiGe BiCMOS platform,” comments Chuck Fox, TowerJazz’s senior VP of worldwide sales & marketing. “This type of partnership with VectraWave is significant as it enables them an industry first, and we look forward to maintaining our relationship to produce their latest products, which are smaller and more energy efficient than previous generations,” he adds.

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