29 December 2020
Alpine produces 400G PAM4 optical engine using Tower’s PH18 silicon photonics process
Alpine Optoelectronics Inc of Fremont, CA, USA (which was founded in 2017 and supplies high-data-rate silicon photonics optical engine chips) has begun production of its 400G PAM4 nCP4 optical engine on the PH18 silicon photonics technology platform of specialty foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd (which has fabrication plants in Migdal Haemek, Israel, and at its US subsidiaries in Newport Beach, CA and San Antonio, TX, and at TowerJazz Japan Ltd). Alpine’s nCP4 chip converts four lanes of 56Gbaud electrical input into four lanes of optical output for use in 400Gbps DR4 transceivers to support high-speed connectivity in data-center applications.
“Alpine selected Tower Semiconductor as a foundry partner two years ago because we believe in Tower’s capabilities of technology development and to seamlessly ramp production,” says Alpine’s CEO Dr Tongqing Wang. “We were able to develop a proprietary design to enable wafer-level testing and a flexible yet efficient edge coupler that works with both lens coupling and fiber-array attachment,” he adds. “We are also pleased with the high OE bandwidth of our modulators, thanks in part to Tower’s selection of PN junction doping.”
Tower’s PH18 silicon photonics open-foundry process offers a set of optical components including ultra-high-bandwidth modulators, photodetectors and low-loss waveguides that can be combined to enable highly integrated photonic products.
“Our unique foundry process provides customers like Alpine not only a sustainable level of maturity but also the flexibility to innovate in a market that is still young and expected to grow strongly in the coming years as 400Gb and 800Gb platforms are deployed,” says Dr Marco Racanelli, senior VP & general manager of Tower’s Analog IC business unit.
According to LightCounting’s recent Integrated Optical Devices Report, the market for silicon photonics-based optical transceivers is growing by 45% annually from 2019 to $3.9bn in 2025.