Project to enable multi-terabit on-board chip-to-chip comms
ICT-STREAMS, a part of the European Union Horizon 2020 programme, is an ambitious project aiming to develop the necessary transceiver and routing technologies to enable multi-terabit on-board chip-to-chip communications.
The ever-growing demands of mega datacentres and high-performance computers for increased bandwidth at a fraction of real-estate and power consumption are pushing current pluggable optics interconnection solutions to their limits. ICT-STREAMS research efforts are aligned with the next-gen embedded optical transceivers, placed on-board and in close proximity to the electronic modules, as a way to drastically reduce the required physical space and power budget. To this end, the three year research project aims to develop a set of innovative technologies for the optical engines and board platform and combine them in a radically new approach of Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) routing architecture in order to increase the state of the art server-board density by over 400% and throughput by 1,600%, with ten times reduced energy consumption.
ICT-STREAMS will exploit silicon photonics technology in order develop ultra-powerful, compact, Dense WDM (DWDM), high channel count and dense embedded optical engines with the ability to exhibit aggregate throughputs beyond 1Tb/s. ICT-STREAMS will also develop a thermal drift compensation system employing a non-invasive wavelength monitoring and control technology to guarantee real-life applicability of the proposed multi-channel Si-Pho technology. On the board level, a single mode polymer-based Electro-Optical PCB (EOPCB) will be developed to serve as the host platform that will efficiently route both optical and high frequency electrical data across the board. As a way to relax manufacturing time and cost requirements associated with complex optical assembly processes, optical engines will rely on novel III/V-on-Si in-plane lasers for optical sourcing while adiabatic coupling will be employed for I/O interfacing with the EOPCB host platform.
Finally, ICT-STREAMS will assemble the new optical engines on the polymer EOPCB together with a 16x16 AWGR-based routing component to leverage WDM technology from just a parallel transmission tool to a massive any-to-any, collision-less and low latency routing platform with 25.6Tb/s aggregate throughput capability. Photonic crystal based III/V-on-Si nano-amplifiers will be introduced as a new amplification paradigm to enable optical power balanced links with advanced features and smart routing functionalities.
The project is scheduled to run for three years bringing together three leading industrial partners, an SME and five top-ranked academic and research institutes in the optical interconnects value chain. Project partners are Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) that is also coordinating the project, Centre National de la Recherche Nationale (CNRS) - Laboratoire de photonique et de nanostructures (LPN) (France), IBM Research Zurich GmbH (Switzerland), Interuniversitair Micro-Elektronica Centrum - IMEC (Belgium), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), STMicroelectronics (Italy), iMinds (Belgium), Vario Optics (Switzerland), FCI Connectivity (Germany). The project will share open information through its website.