High Speed, High Volume: The Benefits of Silicon Photonics for Data Centers
Data centers are the backbone of the digital age, storing, processing, and distributing vast amounts of data every second. And whether they are large or small, they all have several overlapping requirements. Although smaller data centers may not need the highest speeds, they still require high reliability, manageable power consumption, and high-speed optical interconnects.
Here, we’re unpacking the reasons behind the shift to silicon photonics (SiPh), as a solution that ticks all of these boxes. In a nutshell, SiPh represents improved productivity alongside reduced costs.
Where SiPh comes from, and where it’s going
Silicon photonics as we know it has a thirty year history. It began as an exploration of the potential of silicon for optical devices. The advent of CMOS technology in the 1990’s paved the way for building silicon-based optical components and structures using similar processes to those used for manufacturing electronic integrated circuits.
During that time SiPh has steadily developed at a rapid pace, and is now used in a wide range of applications spanning telecommunications, medical devices, AR/VR, automotive lidar, and most importantly for our purposes here – data centers. The amount of design work on this technology is staggering, and the market is expected to drive a $5.4b datacom market in 2027, with new applications in multiple markets (Yole Intelligence — July 2022).
How SiPh opens the door to high volume production
Silicon photonics enables data centers to achieve their primary goal: ramp up into high volume – fast. SiPh is built in semiconductor fabs, leveraging the mature monolithic fabrication process. And because silicon photonics allows for multiple optical components within a single integrated chip, the supply chain is more streamlined than the traditional discrete component model.
Shedding new light on efficiency: reducing power consumption through silicon photonics
By some estimates, data centers account for a full 1% of global electricity use. Soaring energy costs (not to mention sustainability imperatives) have given new urgency to the question of power consumption in high-density computing. Silicon photonics may be one solution, in combination with other solutions, to help reduce power demands.
Advancing data center operations with DustPhotonics
Image Illustration: 800G Silicon photonics transceiver. Left image is the standard implementation with 8 EML lasers. Right image is designed using silicon photonics.
800GB/s DR8 Silicon Photonics Transceivers offer major advantages over models built with discrete components:
- Size: SiPh enables the creation of more compact and more efficient optical components, reducing the size by 30%.
- Power consumption: these transceivers use 20% less power, because they don’t need a TEC to manage temperature and performance.
Get in touch with our design team for custom solutions, or to learn more about how DustPhotonics can help your business.
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