Silicon photonics is regarded as a key enabler of future very high-speed computing and communications applications such as optical networking, CPU interconnect, and data storage, as they scale to multi-terabit(1) connectivity. The technology allows high-speed optical communications devices to be built using well-proven, low-cost silicon manufacturing technology, rather than more expensive compound semiconductor materials containing gallium or indium.
“The powerful synergy of this partnership, derived from the complementary strengths of two technology and industry leaders, represents a tremendous breakthrough. This will bring silicon photonics into the mainstream of important technologies such as optical networking, ultra-fast computer processors and other applications via the commercial volume availability of a best-in-class silicon photonics IP platform,” said Flavio Benetti, general manager of mixed process division at STMicroelectronics.
With this collaboration ST has been granted the rights to use the Luxtera’s silicon photonics technology that will be implemented in the new ST photonics process and its future generations. ST will provide Luxtera with a reliable, scalable, and cost-effective supply chain, allowing Luxtera to satisfy its growing market in terms of volume and quality requirements. Working together the companies will bring silicon photonics into a new era, enabling it to become a cost-effective mainstream technology.
“Luxtera has found a broad market opportunity for silicon photonics that requires an expanded supply chain and continued technology advancement. We can now offer our customers a high-volume, capable source of supply and an aggressive long-term photonic process technology roadmap. This will advance our base technology and enable the integration of optical transceivers with SoCs from advanced CMOS nodes to deliver photonic-enabled SoCs for large scale systems. In turn, ST can now offer customers the world’s leading optical IP as the two companies expand the silicon photonics ecosystem,” said Greg Young, president and CEO of Luxtera.
The new advanced 300mm silicon photonics platform being developed by ST will provide greater capability in terms of low-cost transceivers for data rates of 100Gb, 400Gb and upwards; ultra-high-density interconnect with the lowest power consumption; and improved interoperability with support for 1310nm, 1490nm and 1550nm wavelengths.
The optimised silicon photonics process will be developed at ST’s Crolles technology center in France, where ST’s other major CMOS R&D programs, including the value-added derivative high-performance analog BiCMOS technologies, are running.