TeraConnect demonstrates world's densest optical interconnect

June 7, 2001
TeraConnect has announced the successful demonstration of its massively parallel, VCSEL-based optical transceiver module connecting 640 active optical devices.

NASHUA, NH--TeraConnect has announced the successful demonstration of its massively parallel, VCSEL-based optical transceiver module connecting 640 active optical devices--what it calls the world's densest optical interconnect. A well-financed defense technology spin-off, TeraConnect is aggressively positioning its products for the high-speed router, server, and telecommunications infrastructure markets.

In Nov. 2000, only days before defense and aerospace giant BAE Systems North America (Rockville, MD) purchased Lockheed Sanders (Nashua, NH)--a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin--a core group of Sanders personnel signed a deal to form TeraConnect. Key

players include Glenn Thoren, former director of intellectual property at Sanders, now vice president of business development at TeraConnect; and Mani Sundaram, also ex-Sanders, who is now TeraConnect's vice president of optoelectronics technology.

Venture capital investment firms competed to finance the new company, based on defense-developed optical communications technology. Because TeraConnect's connection device technology can reduce current bottlenecks between digital platforms by increasing data transfer, its market base in telecommunications, computing, and Internet applications can be measured in billions of dollars.

TeraConnect was initially funded with $40 million from Goldman Sachs, Kodiak Venture Partners, and Spectrum Equity Investors. Dave Furneaux, managing general partner at

Kodiak Venture Partners, will serve as chairman of the TeraConnect board of

directors.TeraConnect used the funding to help design and manufacture its demonstration

hardware.

The demonstration used two transceiver modules, 640 individual multi-mode fibers, and a

640-element optical connector. The modules contain high-density electrical edge

connectors, an electrical interface board, a 16�0 array of oxide-confined VCSELs, and a

16�0 array of GaAs p-i-n diode detectors. The TeraConnect module also

incorporates differential optical signaling for improved bit error performance, and bank-

by-bank switching capability for built-in redundant operation in case of fiber or transceiver

channel failure. The demonstration module operates in a synchronous fashion--ideal for

bus extension and I/O functions within a high-performance server environment.

The eight-week proof-of-concept demonstration, with an unnamed major manufacturer of

network servers, replaced copper-based interconnects. TeraConnect's solution never failed

as it passed data over an extended I/O link on the high-end server. The two-dimensional

fiber optic device was designed to reduce transceiver costs by eliminating extra interfaces,

components, and packaging. The high-density technology occupies less space and

consumes less power than existing approaches. Exceeding transmission requirements while

reducing costs of procurement and operation of optical networks creates new options for

potential telecom OEM customers.

TeraConnect is on par to bring "two-dimensional" parallel optical interconnects to market

later this year. The new technology allows multi-channel optical transmission and

reception in a single high-density package using standard multi-fiber ribbon cable. Other

applications for TeraConnect's technology include interconnects for routers, switches, and

storage area networks.

As machines within the Internet infrastructure grow in size, they may occupy several racks

in the central office. TeraConnect modules enable them to be connected at line rates to

create a single virtual machine--simplifying installation and servicing while providing a

direct path to enhanced scalability.

John Grady, senior editor, WDM Solutions

Source: Optoelectronics Industry Report (May 2000)

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