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Nanophotonics tech facilitates optical data transmission in LSI ICs

Posted: 13 Feb 2006  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NEC  silicon  nanophotonics technology  large-scale integration  LSI chip 

NEC Corp. announced the development of fundamental silicon (Si) nanophotonics technology that facilitates optical data transmission in large-scale integration (LSI) chips by eliminating data transmission bottlenecks, aiming to realize higher performance in electronic devices.

According to NEC, features of the new technology include:
 Reduction of the footprint area for the opto-electronic signal transfer function down to 105n2, small enough to set onto an LSI chip, is achieved by combining an ultra-small amplifier with an existing Si nano-photodiode; and
 Application to an optical wavelength division multiplexing system enables transmission of a significantly larger amount of data compared to conventional copper wiring through an optical wire with a width of less than 15m.

Multicore technology
LSI manufacturers have found it difficult to increase clock speed without simultaneously increasing power consumption due to the growing leakage current of transistors as miniaturization advances. To overcome this problem, NEC developed a multicore technology that enables the suppression of clock speed in an LSI chip through parallel processing. This technology already has been commercialized by NEC as an application processor, MP211, for mobile handsets. However, by 2015, the data transfer rate for a microprocessor is expected to exceed 1Tbps, ten times higher than current rates, and may cause difficulty in conventional electrical wiring in high-performance information and network systems. Thus, there is a need for novel data transfer technology that employs light (optical wiring technology).

NEC explained that the important factors in developing optical wiring technology include reduction of size, increase in speed and reduction in power of the opto-electronic component, which consists of an opto-electronic device and a high-speed amplifier. The company has developed a nano-photodiode made of Si as a high-performance, ultra-small opto-electronic device, which has a high-speed response of more than 50GHz and a footprint of less than 105n2. However, added NEC, a structure such as this with a high-speed amplifier is very complicated and thus requires a footprint of several tens of microns square, resulting in an unrealistic layout for placement within an LSI chip with an opto-electronic component using conventional technology.

In response, NEC leveraged the small electrical capacitance of nano-photodiode (junction capacitance of about 10aF) to reduce the footprint of the high-speed amplifier by approximately two orders of magnitude. In addition, a high-speed opto-electrical signal transfer was carried out with little power consumption by combining the circuit and nano-photodiode.




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