More Compute Power, Better Connectivity: Combining Proven CMOS Chip Fabrication with Silicon Photonics to Move Data at the Speed of Light

In our previous blog, we looked at the rapidly shifting landscape for semiconductors. The explosion of data to be created, shared and connected demands more efficient chips that consumer less power.  

To satisfy these demands in the data center as well as in emerging sensing and computing applications including artificial intelligence (AI), the metaverse, streaming, gaming and social media, hardware designers and customers are looking for an almost-fantastical list of requirements: flexibility to mix and match chip capabilities in a variety of chip sizes and packages, more compute power with less power consumption, affordability and faster data transmission.  

As part of the acquisition of IBM Microelectronics in 2015, GF acquired photonics know-how and IP from IBM Research, and has since refined and developed ways to bring it to volume production as the market demand grew for more capability, better power efficiency and higher bandwidth.  

Now, GF has added two new high-performance solutions to its portfolio: the GF FotonixTM photonics platform and new, improved features to our already available silicon germanium (SiGe) 9HP platform.   

GF Fotonix, available from the GF Fab 8 in Malta, New York, monolithically integrates RF, digital and silicon photonics circuits on the same chip, while leveraging the scale, efficiencies and optimization of 300 millimeter silicon manufacturing. GF’s high-volume silicon manufacturing—combined with innovative 2.5D and 3D stacking—enables ultra-high integration of electrical, optical and communication capabilities into a single monolithic design. This solution lets customers integrate more product functions on-chip and simplifies the bill of materials.  

 Key features include:  

  • Low loss passive components (such as SiN and Si WGs, tapers, MMIs)  
  • High performance active photonic components (such as MZM, MRM and GePDs)  
  • High performance active and passive RFCMOS components 
  • Digital standard cell library 
  • V-grooves supporting passive fiber attach  

For customers needing discrete high-performance component solutions for optical transceivers, GF is also announcing new features for the GF SiGe (9HP) portfolio. High-performance silicon germanium (SiGe) solutions from GF are designed to deliver the speed and bandwidth required to transport information through fiber optic high speed networks.  

This new feature set enables customers to integrate higher performance digital and RF functionality and exploit silicon economies of scale. This option will enable 800Gbps data rates to reduce power consumption of data center optical connections. This new feature set is also ideal for 5G and future 6G and similar telecom and cellular applications.  

GF’s SiGe platform offers maximized bandwidth and functionality, while minimizing power consumption and costs.  

GF is providing an Electro-Optical Process Design Kit (PDK) that includes p-cells for photonic and electrical components to help its customers get started designing for the speed of light. Reference designs, design services and post-fab services will be provided as well, along with a digital standard cell library.  

GF is collaborating with industry leaders including Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Inc, Marvell and NVIDIA, along with breakthrough photonic computing leaders including Ayar Labs, Lightmatter, PsiQuantum, Ranovus and Xanadu to deliver innovative, unique, feature-rich solutions to solve some of the biggest challenges facing data centers today. Learn more here.  

To help customers get their designs to market more efficiently, EDA leaders Ansys, Cadence Design Systems, Inc. and Synopsys, Inc. are offering design tools supporting integrated silicon photonics- based chips and chiplets. More info is available here.