2 March 2012

Silicon photonics firm Kotura unveils low-power 100Gb/s optical engine

On 5 March at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC 2012) in Los Angeles next week, silicon photonics firm Kotura Inc of Monterey Park, CA, USA, which designs and makes silicon photonics application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for the communications, computing, sensing and detection markets, will demonstrate its low-power 100Gb/s optical engine for supporting the interconnect fabric for next-generation data centers and high-performance computers (HPC).

The new optical engine chips are based on Kotura’s micron-scale manufacturing platform currently in mass production and deployed in live networks around the world since 2006. With three of the five largest telecom OEMs already using Kotura products in their 10, 40 and 100Gb/s networks, the firm is approaching a million channels per year currently in production.

Kotura’s silicon photonics platform supports optical engines using wavelength division multiplexing (WDM). Claiming to be the only silicon photonics provider to offer WDM, Kotura says that its optical engine can reduce the cost of fiber and associated connectors within the interconnect fabric for 4x25GHz solutions by a factor of four, as well as readily expanding from 4 channels to 8, 16 or even 40 channels over a single strand of optical fiber. The silicon photonics platform also supports optical engines using parallel fiber channels.

“The optical engine provides our customers with an inexpensive, small form factor that reduces power consumption and provides a high level of integration,” says chief technology officer Mehdi Asghari. “Moreover, we are addressing the need for green solutions that will alleviate some of the strain associated with power hogs such as data centers and high-performance computers,” he adds. “Since our inception, we have been focused on developing a platform that enables innovative solutions based on silicon photonics that can take us to the next generation of connectivity.”

Kotura says that, because its platform is capable of high-yield manufacturing, attractive price volume curves can be achieved. The firm has integrated key functionalities – such as flip-chip-attached lasers, high-performance WDM de/multiplexers, fast low-power modulators and high-speed detectors – into a single pair of silicon chips, eliminating the need for hundreds of piece parts and dozens of assembly steps. The optical engine is so small that a 100Gb/s transceiver will easily fit inside a QSFP package (the smallest 40G package on the market), greatly increasing the panel density of 100Gb/s transceivers.  

“We are in the early stages of a market with huge potential,” says Brad Smith, senior VP at Lightcounting, a market research analyst firm tracking high-speed interconnects. “100G in a QSFP package over a single strand of single-mode fiber is exactly what the HPC, traditional data center and switch/routing infrastructure is looking for to support next-generation systems and to gear up for the ‘exa-flood’ of data coming,” he adds.  

Finding fast enough interconnects has become the limiting factor for the entire industry. With 10 core microprocessors, four per server, virtualization and 48-60 servers per rack, the aggregate bandwidth at the top-of-rack switch will hit 480-600G. This will require four to five 100G up links per rack and large data centers using 200-500 racks.

According to Smith, silicon photonics enable long-haul optical WDM to move to the server and switch rack. Together with WDM, it allows modulation speed to rise to 40G/50G and more channels in the future without having to upgrade the entire fiber plant.

As part of Kotura’s optical engine demonstration at OFC, Anritsu Company will be using its MP1800A bit-error-rate tester (BERT) to support 100Gb/s networking applications. As a provider of high-speed test instrumentation, Anritsu was selected because the MP1800A is a modular BERT with a built-in pulse pattern generator (PPG) that supports the output of high-quality, low intrinsic jitter signals, as well as a built-in error detector (ED) with high input sensitivity of 10mV. The MP1800A also supports signal analyses, including bathtub and Q measurements.

Kotura says that its devices have reliably logged more than 1 billion channel hours of operation. The firm has 140 issued and applied patents. At OFC, the chips for the optical engine will be on display at Kotura’s booth #1951, while the demonstration will be shown privately.

Tags: Kotura Silicon photonics

Visit: www.kotura.com

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