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LIGHTWAVE Online: June 17, 2021

Avicena touts LED-based LightBundle optical interconnects for chip-to-chip communication

The company’s LightBundle leverages microLED light sources and multicore fibers to create highly parallel interconnects that Avicena sources say can enable chip-to-chip communications at distances up to 10 m

AUTHOR: Stephen Hardy

Mountain View, CA, based startup Avicena Inc. has announced an optical interconnect based on technology from the imagery and display worlds. The company’s LightBundleTM leverages microLED light sources and multicore fibers to create highly parallel interconnects that Avicena sources say can enable chip-to-chip communications at distances up to 10 m.

At the heart of the LightBundle is the company’s Cavity-Reinforced Optical Micro-Emitters (CROMEs), based on GaN microLEDs, according to Chris Pfistner, who works in marketing and business development with Avicena. Such visible light emitters are commonly used in the display arena, but typically can transmit less than 1 Gbps of information. Avicena has developed a way to boost that output to approximately 10 Gbps, Pfistner says. The blue CROMEs are bonded to CMOS in a highly parallel array alongside arrays of silicon photodetectors grown directly in CMOS. The technology is capable of producing 10 Tbps per square millimeter at a power efficiency of less than 0.5 pJ/bit, Pfistner asserts. The CROME emitters can operate at ASIC temperatures, meaning they can serve reliably as internal laser sources for co-packaged optics without cooling.

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Compound Semiconductor: June 2021

Compound Semiconductor: June 2021

Easing the chip-to-chip communication bottleneck by leveraging microLED display technology

High-speed optical emitters derived from GaN-based microLED displays can move data at much higher density and lower power than copper, bringing optical connections to the centimetre scale

BY BARDIA PEZESHKI, ROB KALMAN, ALEX TSELIKOV AND CAMERON DANESH FROM AVICENA

MOST OF THE ENERGY consumed in computing systems is not in the computation, but in moving data, and the longer the distance, the greater the challenge in terms of energy and density. At longer length scales, fibre optic links have replaced copper, but at short distances the significant amount of energy required to convert data back and forth between photons and electrons makes optical interfaces prohibitive.

Although it may raise a few eyebrows, at these shorter length scales, optimized optical emitters derived from GaN microLEDs could be a promising candidate for optical communications by leveraging their success in the display industry. Such a move could transform the $400 billion computer hardware industry and enable entirely new architectures for parallel computing, machine learning, and processors.

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