(Plenary) High-Performance Photonic BiCMOS – Next Generation More-than-Moore Technology for the Large Bandwidth Era

Monday, 6 October 2014: 11:30
Expo Center, 1st Floor, Universal 12 (Moon Palace Resort)
L. Zimmermann (IHP)
It is a remarkable fact that since the advent of cable telephony we observe a continuous growth of network traffic on a global scale. Despite all economic ups and downs, traffic grows steadily, certainly since the advent of the internet about two decades ago. The similarity to Moore’s law of microelectronics has been pointed out several times, and, as a matter of fact this traffic development would not have happened without the unswerving advance of IC technology. Ubiquitous compute power has changed and will keep changing our world, spanning an unprecedented application space encompassing web 3.0, augmented reality, 3D online gaming and virtual worlds, social media etc.

Looking at the infrastructure underlying all these developments we soon realize that long haul traffic and its growth merely reflect the tip of the iceberg. There is an emerging planetary realm of warehouse-scale data centers hosting a growing fraction of global computing and data storage. Traffic between user and data center is surpassed by traffic created inside the data center leading to Petabit/sec aggregate bandwidth requirements. This inside data center traffic feeds hundreds of individual user services that shape the cloud from the point of view of consumers, therefore stimulating additional traffic in radio access networks, fiber-to-the-home and other networks.

The technology most needed to sustain this positive feedback growth is the interconnect engine. And without any doubt, optical solutions intimately integrated with electronics will be required to satisfy the demand of bandwidth, energy-per-bit, and cost. Eventually, large bandwidth will become ubiquitous. With the migration of photonic systems to ever shorter distances, scalable photonic-electronic IC technologies become a necessity.

At this point it is important to keep in mind that photonic functionality such as reception or transmission can be integrated and the required footprint can shrink. However, photonics cannot shrink anymore by orders of magnitude, simply due to the wavelength used. Therefore, required voltage swings remain similar to discrete solutions, while the ability to go to maximum speed beyond 50Gbit/sec is very important.

Here exists a sweet spot for next generation More-than-Moore technologies, such as high-performance photonic BiCMOS. Going beyond the concept of present More-than-Moore technologies, photonic BiCMOS combines 2 high-performance technology sub-modules (high –performance HBTs and photonics) with a baseline CMOS process. The added complexity pays off with a full set of photonic features fit for broad-band optoelectronic system integration. We shall present IHP’s perspective on a photonic More-than-Moore technology, joining most advanced HBT technology with high-speed photonic devices for electronic-photonic sub-systems for next generation communication networks.