Intel Promotes Integrated Optoelectronics for Data Centers

Intel promotes the development of integrated optoelectronics, which will be used in data centers. Today, at the Intel Research Institute Open Day, Intel focused on its industry-leading technological advancement, taking another step toward realizing the long-term vision of integrating photonics with low-cost, high-capacity silicon chips. These advancements represent key advancements in the field of optical interconnection.

Also, they solve the increasing challenge of electrical input/output (I/O) performance expansion-the workload that currently requires a large amount of data calculation has overwhelmed the network traffic of the data center. Intel demonstrated multiple developments in key technology building blocks including miniaturization, laying a solid foundation for closer integration of optics and silicon technologies.

James Jaussi, senior principal engineer at Intel and director of the Intel Research Institute’s PHY Research Laboratory, said: “We are approaching the I/O power wall and the I/O bandwidth gap, which will seriously hinder performance expansion. Intel is integrating optoelectronic technology The rapid progress made in this area will allow the industry to reimagine the data center network and architecture connected by light.

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At present, we have demonstrated all the key optical technology building blocks on a silicon chip platform that is tightly integrated with CMOS chips. We Research on the tight integration of photonic technology with CMOS silicon chips can systematically eliminate barriers in cost, energy, and size constraints, in order to give server packaging the transformative capabilities of optical interconnection.”

In the data center, new data-centric workloads are increasing every day. As the data movement between servers continues to increase, it poses new challenges to today’s network infrastructure. The industry is rapidly approaching the practical limits of electrical I/O performance.

With the ever-increasing demand for computing bandwidth, the scale of electrical I/O cannot keep growing simultaneously, which creates an “I/O power wall” that limits the available energy for computing operations. By directly introducing optical interconnect I/O into servers and packages, we can break this limitation and allow data to move more efficiently.

At today’s Intel Research Institute event, Intel demonstrated significant progress in key technology building blocks, which are the foundation of Intel’s integrated optoelectronic research. These technical building blocks include light generation, amplification, detection, modulation, complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) interface circuits, and package integration, which are essential for the realization of integrated optoelectronics.

The prototype displayed at this event closely combines photonic technology with CMOS technology. This is a proof of concept for the complete integration of photonic technology with core computing chips in the future. Intel also demonstrated a miniature ring modulator that is 1,000 times smaller than traditional components. For a long time, the large size and high cost of traditional chip modulators are obstacles to the introduction of optical technology into the server package.

The server package needs to integrate a hundred such devices. All the above developments laid the foundation for the expansion of silicon photonics applications. These applications are not limited to the upper layer of the network, but also include server internals and future server packaging.

Key Technologies for Building Modules include:

1. Micro-ring modulators:

The traditional chip modulators take up too much area and are expensive to place in the IC package. The miniature ring modulator developed by Intel reduces the size of the modulator by more than 1,000 times, thereby eliminating the main obstacle to integrating silicon photonics into computing packages.

2. All silicon photo detector:

For decades, the industry has believed that silicon actually has no light detection function. The research results presented by Intel prove that this is not the case. A major benefit of this breakthrough is to make the cost lower.

3. Integrated semiconductor optical amplifier:

Since we are committed to reducing total power consumption, integrated semiconductor optical amplifiers are essential. The device is realized by using the same material as the integrated laser.

4. Integrated multi-wavelength lasers:

Using a technology called wavelength division multiplexing, different wavelengths from the same laser can be used to transmit more data in the same beam. In this way, a single optical cable can be used to transmit additional data, thereby increasing the bandwidth density.

5. Integration:

The use of advanced packaging technology to tightly integrate silicon photonics and CMOS chips can achieve three major advantages:

  1. lower power consumption
  2. higher bandwidth and
  3. fewer pins (pincount).

Intel is the only company that has demonstrated the integration of multi-wavelength lasers, semiconductor optical amplifiers, all-silicon photodetectors, and micro-ring modulators on a single technology platform tightly integrated with CMOS chips. This research breakthrough laid the foundation for the expansion of integrated optoelectronic technology.

Intel put forward the ambitious goal many years ago to make light the foundation of connection technology. The research on integrated optoelectronic technology demonstrated at this event is a far-reaching progress towards this goal.

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This new research opens up more possibilities, including a more decentralized future architecture, where multiple functional modules, such as computing, memory, accelerators and peripherals, will be distributed throughout the network and passed through high-speed and low-latency links Optical technology and software interconnection.

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