Data-center technology is a hotbed for development in photonics -- especially silicon photonics as a replacement in some cases for more conventional types of fiber-optic data transmission.
“Market indications are that the average data center interconnect in the U.S. is now over 130 meters in length, operating with 25 Gbit/s MM VCSEL [multimode vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser] solutions which target a reach of only 100 meters,” says Brent Hatfield, product manager for active optics, Molex. “Data-center architects and OEM providers are discovering that silicon photonics based optics bring significant advantages in terms of longer reach, with exceptionally low power consumption.”
Molex his one of the growing number of companies who are developing and/or commercializing data-center communication devices based on silicon photonics -- these include Intel and Google, as well as Corning, Cisco, and smaller photonics companies such as Luxtera and Kotura.
Molex's "QuatroScale" devices are based on CMOS-compatible silicon photonics. In one example, the QuatroScale 100 Gbit/s zQSFP+ active optical cable (AOC) and on-board modules run at a 1.5 W per 100 Gbit/s power level, but can transmit over distances of up to 4 km. Low power AOCs deliver a bit-error-rate (BER) down to 1 x 10-18, delivering 16 bidirectional channels operating at 28 Gbit/s with data rates scalable up to 400 Gbit/s bandwidth.
The QuatroScale 28 Gbit/s devices will be highlighted at OFC 2014 (9-13 March 2014; San Fransisco, CA), where those interested can view a 1 km transmission demonstration of 28 Git/s QSFP+ silicon photonics at Molex's booth (3863). Molex will begin offering samples of its silicon-photonics devices in summer 2014.