Advanced Photonics Inc. , a company specialized in semiconductors, optical communications and optical interconnection

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“Optoelectronic wiring make its way into all equipment Optics and Electric will integrate on chip level” Nikkei Electronics, July 2011 edition.

Time has come where optical transmission technology, such as the optical wiring / optical circuit that has contributed to the evolution of the communication network, will start to see its penetration into various kind of equipment. The rationale for this has been that high-speed transmission using electrical means has come close to hit its limit and thus requiring an alternative technology. Following the partial deployment of optical interconnect technology in supercomputers since 2010, this promising technology could be expected to make its way into eventually household appliances such as television and other equipment. (edited based on excerpt taken from Nikkei Electronics July,2011 edition)

“Technology Trend in Optical Interconnect”

The computing power in supercomputers has reached a capability of greater than 10P (Peta) FLOPS [link]. In the near future of 2018-2020, development might progress towards achieving 100 times the current computation power to reach 1E (Exa) FLOPS. Stepping into this ultra-high-performance regime, the conventional copper wiring is bound to hit the bottleneck in regard of its transmission speed and power consumption. To overcome this, Optical Interconnect has been receiving much attention as a most promising technology to achieve both high-speed and low power consumption at a same time. Optical Interconnect is a technology to utilize optical communication for short distance interconnection as inside a chip, between chips, between boards and also between equipment.

“Penetration of Optical Interconnect in Datacom Equipment”

As mentioned in the technology trend, the system data processing speed in super computing has been increasing exponentially, thus accelerating the need to deploy optical interconnect between and inside equipment. Leading in the need is what called the Active Optical Cable (AOC) products [link] that are used for interconnection between data servers and have first being deployed in the top models of super computers around year 2010 [link]. In addition, for interconnection inside an equipment, IBM has from around 2011 to 2012 started to commercialize its first model of supercomputers with optical transceiver modules embedded on the board [link]. Triggering by these moves, it can be foreseen that needs for the deployment of optical interconnect technology inside data communication equipment would be on the rise.

“Sony to show 40Gbit/s optical wiring at reduced-cost matching to electrical wiring ” - by doing away with lenses and mirrors - Nikkei Electronics May,2012 edition

Sony has announced the details of its new optical module for use inside equipment on April 2012. The modules were deployed inside Sony’s professional cinecamera “F65” and also inside the recorder “SR-R4” connecting to the camera. With maximum transmission speed up to 40 Gigabit/second, it could support a non-compressed video transmission. To justify deployment into F65 and SR-R4, the module was said to have its “cost reduced to almost comparable to what would cost had it been designed with electrical wiring”. This was possible by doing away the lenses and mirror, and thus saves on component cost and also on labour time for optical coupling. The basic research for the optical coupling and packaging has been carried out with cooperation from a venture start-up, Advanced Photonics Inc. (Excerpt from Nikkei Electronics May, 2012 edition). The developed technology could serve to pave way to enable next-generation high-definition video transmission, such as the 8k4k Super High-Definition.

“Future Prospect for Optical Interconnect”

As mentioned in the “Technology Trend” above, optical interconnect is a technology aimed to overcome the bottleneck in electrical transmission. This new technology also enables both high-speed and low power consumption at a same time. As one of the possible future trend, Silicon Photonics, a technology fully exploiting the advantages of optical interconnect and also capable to render ultra-compact equipment design, has been extensively studied and developed in various institutions across the world [link]. There is also expectation that one might see next-generation data centers and supercomputers deploying silicon photonics technology start to come out by the year 2020.