22 March 2010


Avago and IBM collaborate on 120Gb/s optical interconnects for supercomputers

Avago Technologies, which designs and supplies analog semiconductor devices (with a focus on III-V based products), has introduced what is claimed to be the fastest, most energy-efficient embedded interconnect technology of its kind: an embedded fiber-optic solution that could eventually replace copper as the optimal solution for handling high-speed data rate requirements for the most powerful supercomputers.

Designed in collaboration with IBM, Avago’s new miniature 12-channel parallel optic transmitter and receiver modules can handle record data rates of up to 120Gb/s (twice as fast as current data rates), taking high-performance computing to a new level in terms of processing throughput. Such performance rates could allow further advances in such challenges as automobile safety, weather forecasting, and the discovery of new drugs and worldwide oil reserves, says the firm.

The first of the micro-parallel modules has been designed specifically for IBM and will appear first in its new-generation POWER7 supercomputing systems. “This achievement is the culmination of a three-year collaboration between Avago and IBM,” says Philip Gadd, VP & general manager of Avago’s Fiber Optics Product Division (FOPD).

The modules created for IBM’s POWER7 systems feature what are claimed to be the industry’s smallest form factors and incorporate a highly integrated package for dense tiling of the modules in the host system. Avago says that its embedded optics solution enables improved system performance via superior signal integrity, thermal management and EMI design.

“This is an important achievement for the future of fiber-optic technologies and high-performance computing,” believes Ed Seminaro, IBM fellow, Power Systems Development, IBM Systems & Technology Group. “We were able to play a significant part in the definition and qualification of new optical technology that enables the processing of enormous amounts of information in real time.”

Details of the new interconnect technology are being presented by Avago and IBM at this week’s 2010 Optical Fiber Communications conference (OFC 2010) in San Diego (21–25 March).

*In conjunction with the OFC/NFOEC Conference, Gadd is joining a panel of fiber-optic industry leaders participating in today’s 2010 Executive Forum — co-sponsored by the Optical Society of America (OSA) and Lightwave Magazine — to his insight on ‘Components and Subsystems for 40 and 100 Gbps applications’.

In addition, on Tuesday FOPD director of strategic marketing Mitchell Fields is speaking at the OFC/NFOEC press luncheon on ‘Delivering Bandwidth to New and Emerging Markets’, and will later present the paper ‘Transceivers and Optical Engines for Computer and Datacenter Interconnect’.

Also, at the OFC exhibition, Avago is conducting product and technology demonstrations, including its new MicroPOD embedded optical solution (which features the industry’s highest density optical I/O); an embedded parallel optics transmit/receive solution that provides more than 120Gb/s bandwidth in a miniature package; and a demonstration of its high-speed VCSELs for next-generation networking. Also in the booth will be an IBM Supercomputing demonstration that includes Avago’s MicroPOD solution.

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