29 November 2012 VCSELs for exascale computing, computer farms, and green photonics
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Abstract
The bandwidth-induced communication bottleneck due to the intrinsic limitations of metal interconnects is inhibiting the performance and environmental friendliness of today´s supercomputers, data centers, and in fact all other modern electrically interconnected and interoperable networks such as data farms and "cloud" fabrics. The same is true for systems of optical interconnects (OIs), where even when the metal interconnects are replaced with OIs the systems remain limited by bandwidth, physical size, and most critically the power consumption and lifecycle operating costs. Vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) are ideally suited to solve this dilemma. Global communication providers like Google Inc., Intel Inc., HP Inc., and IBM Inc. are now producing optical interconnects based on VCSELs. The optimal bandwidth per link may be analyzed by by using Amdahl´s Law and depends on the architecture of the data center and the performance of the servers within the data center. According to Google Inc., a bandwidth of 40 Gb/s has to be accommodated in the future. IBM Inc. demands 80 Tbps interconnects between solitary server chips in 2020. We recently realized ultrahigh bit rate VCSELs up to 49 Gb/s suited for such optical interconnects emitting at 980 nm. These devices show error-free transmission at temperatures up to 155°C and operate beyond 200°C. Single channel data-rates of 40 Gb/s were achieved up to 75°C. Record high energy efficiencies close to 50 fJ/bit were demonstrated for VCSELs emitting at 850 nm. Our devices are fabricated using a full three-inch wafer process, and the apertures were formed by in-situ controlled selective wet oxidation using stainless steel-based vacuum equipment of our own design. assembly, and operation. All device data are measured, recorded, and evaluated by our proprietary fully automated wafer mapping probe station. The bandwidth density of our present devices is expected to be scalable from about 100 Gbps/mm² to a physical limit of roughly 15 Tbps/mm² based on the current 12.5 Gb/s VCSEL technology. Still more energy-efficient and smaller volume laser diode devices dissipating less heat are mandatory for further up scaling of the bandwidth. Novel metal-clad VCSELs enable a reduction of the device's footprint for potentially ultrashort range interconnects by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude compared to conventional VCSELs thus enabling a similar increase of device density and bandwidth.
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Werner Hofmann, Werner Hofmann, Philip Moser, Philip Moser, Philip Wolf, Philip Wolf, Gunter Larisch, Gunter Larisch, Hui Li, Hui Li, Wei Li, Wei Li, James Lott, James Lott, Dieter Bimberg, Dieter Bimberg, } "VCSELs for exascale computing, computer farms, and green photonics", Proc. SPIE 8552, Semiconductor Lasers and Applications V, 855205 (29 November 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.2006273; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2006273
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