26 October 2022
Avicena acquires GaN micro-LED fab and engineering team from Nanosys
Avicena of Mountain View, CA, USA (which develops ultra-low-energy optical links based on micro-LEDs) has acquired a micro-LED fabrication facility and associated engineering team in Sunnyvale, CA, USA from fellow Silicon Valley-based firm Nanosys Inc (which was founded in 2001 and operates the world’s largest quantum dot nanomaterials fab — as of 2021, consumer electronics brands have shipped more than 60 million devices in over 750 unique products from tablets to monitors and TVs with Nanosys’ proprietary quantum dot technology).
The transaction enhances Avicena’s capabilities in the development and manufacturing of high-speed gallium nitride (GaN) micro-LEDs optimized for parallel multi-Tbps interconnects.
The GaN micro-LED fab was previously owned by glō AB, which was spun off from Sweden’s Lund University in 2003 and established the R&D and product development pilot line in Sunnyvale in 2010 before investing over $200m in the development of micro-LED displays (including significant investments in manufacturing capabilities). Nanosys acquired glō in May 2021. Avicena had been using the Nanosys fab for the development of unique ultra-fast micro-LEDs, and the firm says that the acquisition of the fab and associated engineering team significantly increases its development and manufacturing capabilities.
Avicena’s LightBundle links are based on arrays of ultra-fast GaN micro-LEDs that leverage the micro-LED display ecosystem and can be integrated directly onto high performance CMOS ICs. Each ultra-low-power micro-LED array is connected via a multi-core fiber cable using hundreds of parallel optical lanes to a matching array of CMOS-compatible photodiodes (PDs). This design enables ultra-low-power, low-cost multi-Tbps interconnects with up to 10m reach.
The parallel nature of LightBundle is reckoned to be well matched to parallel chiplet interfaces like UCIe, OpenHBI, and BoW, and can also be used to extend the reach of existing compute interconnects like PCIe/CXL, and HBM/DDR/GDDR memory links, as well as various inter-processor interconnects like NVLink with low power and low latency.
“We have already demonstrated LightBundle links running at less than 1pJ/bit and individual micro-LED links running at 14Gbps NRZ,” notes Avicena’s founder & CEO Bardia Pezeshki. “With the acquisition of the Nanosys micro-LED development facilities we will be in an excellent position to further advance epitaxy, device process and transfer technology and achieve even lower energy and higher data rates per lane. Compact, low-cost interconnects using hundreds of these links can support a total bandwidth of many terabits per second and help solve the data bottleneck in advanced silicon ICs.”
The facilities include epitaxy, wafer processing, and lift-off and transfer tools to post- process silicon ICs with optical interfaces. Together with Avicena’s internal ASIC team, the company plans to deliver optical chiplets with high capacity and extremely low power. Compared with laser or silicon photonics-based interconnects, micro-LED optical interconnects are well suited for integration with silicon ICs, and are lower power, lower cost, and target reaches up to 10m.
“We thank the micro-LED fab team for their partnership in developing and manufacturing micro-LEDs as part of Nanosys and wish them well in their future with Avicena,” comments Nanosys’ president & CEO Jason Hartlove. “Avicena is an exciting company developing cutting-edge micro-LED solutions, and we are pleased to have an equity stake and the opportunity to continue to collaborate with them during their next phase of growth.”