Silicon Photonics

The average distance a Google query travels is 2400km, says a new book called Silicon Photonics by Daryl Inniss and Roy Rubenstein.

Silicon Photonics

It’s an illustration of the demands being put on data transport.

With those demands getting heavier and Moore’s Law limping, how can the networks cope?

Optical transport is one answer, and one way of harnessing optics is silicon photonics.

Because silicon photonics uses chip-making techniques to fabricate photonic circuits that means photonic circuits can be made affordably. Already there are foundries set up to make photonics circuits. The stage is set for photonics ASIC houses to emerge. But will they?

Can silicon photonics save the day for data transport?

“Many of the conditions that must be met for silicon photonics to reach its tipping point are now in place. Investment in the technology is healthy and increasing, more companies are embracing it, and a wider base of products is coming to market,” say Inniss and Rubenstein, “but the technology is not widely adopted, and applications that will deliver significant unit volumes have yet to start. We expect silicon photonics to break out in the coming years. At some stage around 2021, it will become evident that [it] has reached its tipping point. What is happening now can best be described as entering the era of silicon photonics.”

The book, is an explanation of how the technology may be the answer to mankind’s insatiable lust for more data.

Chapters include:

  • What Silicon Photonics needs to go mainstream.
  • State of the Industry Report
  • The Role of Silicon Photonics for Data Centre interconnect
  • Tackling Continued Traffic Growth.

The authors, of course, are converts to the cause that silicon photonics rather than compound semiconductors or other alternatives will be the future for data transport.

“Silicon photonics will become the optical integration platform,” assert Inniss and Rubenstein, “just as CMOS became the platform for the bulk of the chip industry. And similarly, while not all electronic chips are designed in CMOS, silicon photonics will dominate volumes but indium phosphide, gallium arsenide, lithium niobate, and planar lightwave circuits will continue to be made. But they will become increasingly specialist; silicon photonics will become the platform for optics.”


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