Utilizing photons rather than electrons as information carriers can result in systems with a faster data rate and lower cross talk. However, optical devices, where photons control photons, are presently very difficult to realize. On the other hand, the performance of CMOS integrated circuits (ICs) and VCSEL arrays has increased dramatically in recent years, and provides a strong incentive to devise and study ways of merging the electronic and photonic functions. These integrated circuits are called “smart pixels” and combine electronic processing with optical interconnections. The cost/performance benefit justifies the use of optical technology only when the system clock frequency approaches 1 GHz or when there are a large number of complex I/O interconnects. Therefore, in order to justify replacing the electronic I/O pins with optical interconnections, a smart-pixel array should be large scale and operate at high speed.
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