Photonics used to develop low-emission 1.6Tb per second internet

23 Oct 2019

Image: Teriphic

Teriphic announced that it is developing a new optical transceiver module for internet data centres, which could download 267 HD Netflix movies in one second.

On Wednesday (23 October), the Horizon 2020-funded consortium Teriphic announced that it is developing new optical transceiver modules used in internet data centres, which will reduce power consumption by 50pc per gigabit per second and, in turn, see lower carbon emissions.

The Teriphic group expects its new transceivers, which use light to exchange terabits – or thousands of gigabits per second – to solve problems faster and reduce queue times.

In a statement, the group said: “Shortening processing intervals for high-performance computing, edge computing and machine learning, the new ultra-high-capacity, low-power consumption pluggable modules are capable of both 800Gb per second and 1.6Tb per second.”

The latter speed is the equivalent of downloading 267 HD Netflix movies in one second. The group is aiming to surpass the current ‘gold standard’ of 400Gb per second.

The €5.6m Teriphic project, which will run until December 2021, has received a €4.7m grant from the European Commission through the Photonics Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

Photonic integration

Panos Groumas from the Teriphic project coordination team said: “Photonics is essential for the future of data centres. Teriphic intends to develop low-cost terabit optical transceivers through the automation of current photonic integration concepts and processes in commercial assembly machines.

“While 400Gb is impressive and was demonstrated in 2018, high-performance computing, edge computing, machine learning, end-user experiences will not run on existing speeds of 400Gb per second.

“We are developing mass-production-compatible 800Gb per second pluggable modules with eight lanes, and 1.6Tb per second mid-board modules with 16 lanes having at least 2km reach. When the gigabit per second power consumption is reduced, data centres will consume less power, and given that they are powered by power plants relying on various fuel sources including coal, we will see a significant reduction in carbon emissions.”

Prof Hercules Avramopoulos, project leader at Teriphic, added: “Teriphic will bring together EML arrays in the O-band, PD arrays and a polymer chip that will act as the host platform for the integration of the arrays and the wavelength mux-demux of the lanes.

“The integration will rely on butt-end-coupling steps, which will be automated via the development of module specific alignment and attachment processes on commercial equipment.”

Teriphic’s partners

Avramopoulos said that the new transceiver design introduced by the research group will allow for significant cost savings, due to the assembly automation of both the transmitter and receiver optical subassembly parts. It will also create savings at the packaging level.

He added that it is an industrially driven project with specific and well-defined technical objectives. “The technology that will be developed and delivered by the project is feasible due to the unique expertise that each one of the consortium partners brings.

“ICCS and Telecom Italia are responsible for the testing of the devices in both lab and real settings. Fraunhofer-HHI provides the photonic platform, the active components and is responsible for the hybrid integration of the latter with the photonic platform using FiconTec machines.

“FiconTec provides custom equipment for the automated assembly processes, while III-V lab provides the high-speed electronic driver chips. Finally, Mellanox Technologies will take up the packaging of the transceivers.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic