Photonic integration and co-packaging: Design tools for footprint optimization in data center networks
As traffic within and between data centers continues to grow, operators need to constrain the resulting increase in power consumption to minimize operational costs. This is driving the need to manage footprint and power at the system design level. Photonic integration and co-packaging are related approaches to addressing area and power challenges for networking applications.
By Patricia Bower – Data center networks have evolved rapidly over the last couple of years, in large part due to the scalability and flexibility supported by today’s compact modular DCI solutions. System designers leveraged advances in key foundational technologies to pack significant capacity and service density into these products, and their popularity is growing as these solutions capture new market segments.
The same advances have also paved the way for new consumption models for coherent optical technology in the form of footprint-optimized, pluggable solutions. As traffic growth for server interconnect within data centers continues to increase, greater for interconnect between data centers (DCI) will be required.
Scaling of data center traffic to get more bandwidth adds to the power consumption overhead and real estate requirements for operators which adds to capital and operational costs.
With each new generation of switching platform and coherent optical transport systems, designers have met the challenges by increasing throughput density and reducing power/bit. Both intra-DC and DCI traffic flows will increasingly rely on advances in foundational technologies and system design options to mitigate power consumption while maximizing interconnect densities.
What are these foundational technologies? They include:
- Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS)
- Indium phosphide (InP)
- Silicon photonics (SiPhot)
In networking applications, CMOS is the basis for both high-capacity switch chips used in router platforms and coherent optical digital-signal-processors (DSP).
InP and SiPhot are used to build electo-optical circuits for signal transport over optical fibers. Together, the DSP and electro-optical components are the heart of coherent optical transport systems. more>
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