9 March 2022
GlobalFoundries collaborating on silicon photonics for data centers
GlobalFoundries (GF) of Malta, NY, USA (which has operations in Singapore, Germany and the USA) says that it is collaborating with firms including Broadcom Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Marvell and NVIDIA, along with photonics companies including Ayar Labs, Lightmatter, PsiQuantum, Ranovus and Xanadu, to deliver feature-rich solutions to solve challenges facing data centers.
The more than 42 billion connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices generating ~177ZB of data annually –– combined with the rise of power consumption in data centers –– is driving the need for innovative solutions to move and compute data faster and more energy efficiently, notes GF. These key market trends and implications have catalyzed its focus on semiconductor solutions that harvest the potential of photons instead of electrons to move data and position GF in the optical networking module market that is projected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26% from 2021 to about $4bn by 2026.
GF has now unveiled its next-generation silicon photonics platform GF Fotonix. The firm says that it has active design wins with major customers, significant market share, and expects its growth in this segment to outpace the market.
GF is also partnering with Cisco Systems on a custom silicon photonics solution for data-center network (DCN) and data-center interconnect (DCI) applications, including an interdependent process design kit (PDK) in close collaboration with its GF manufacturing services team.
GF solutions to move and compute data at speed of light
GF Fotonix is a monolithic platform, reckoned to be the first in the industry to combine differentiated 300mm photonics features and 300GHz-class RF-CMOS on a silicon wafer, delivering what is claimed to be best-in-class performance at scale. GF Fotonix consolidates complex processes that were previously distributed across multiple chips onto a single chip by combining a photonic system, radio frequency (RF) components and high-performance complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) logic on a single silicon chip.
GF is the only pure-play foundry with a 300mm monolithic silicon photonics solution that has demonstrated the industry’s highest data rate per fiber (0.5Tbps/fiber). This enables 1.6-3.2Tbps optical chiplets, which deliver faster, more efficient transmission of data, more efficiently with better signal integrity. In addition, the up to 10,000x improvement in system error rate enables next-generation artificial intelligence (AI).
GF Fotonix enables high integration onto a photonics integrated circuit (PIC) so customers can integrate more product functions and simplify their bill of materials (BOMs). End customers can realize greater performance through increased capacity and capability. The new solution also enables innovative packaging solutions, such as the passive attachment for larger fiber arrays, support for 2.5D packaging, and on-die lasers.
GF Fotonix solutions will be manufactured at the company’s manufacturing facility in Malta, NY, with the PDK 1.0 available in April. Electronic design automation (EDA) partners Ansys, Cadence Design Systems Inc and Synopsys provide design tools and flows to support GF’s customers and their solutions. GF provides customers with reference design kits, multi-project wafers (MPWs), testing, pre- and post-fab, turnkey and semiconductor manufacturing services to help them get to market faster.
In addition, for customers needing discrete, high-performance RF solutions for optical systems, GF is adding new features onto the GF SiGe platform. High-performance silicon germanium solutions from GF are designed to deliver the speed and bandwidth required to transport information through next-generation fiber-optic high-speed networks.