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Removing roadblocks on the path to 400G and beyond

By Paul Wu, EVP-Product, Adolite, Inc


As data center and cloud providers gather at OFC 2018 to engage in discussions with vendors about getting to 400G (gigabits per second) and beyond, faster module manufacturing is a timely and welcomed capability. A new solution without time-intensive optical fiber assembly and optical alignment offers a way for providers to unblock their current supply chain bottlenecks to keep pace with increasing demand.
 
Today, for photonic chips the most challenging area is the optical coupling of the chip to the optical fiber. The coupling of a fiber input or output to the photonic chip requires the optical fiber to be very accurately aligned to the silicon waveguide coupler on the photonic chip. Any alignment issues will lead to manufacturing yield problems that create a supply chain bottleneck – keeping providers from receiving the products they need for expansion.
 
A new manufacturing approach uses optical flexible printed circuits (FPC) based on specialized polymer materials. It, essentially, replaces fiber with plastic. With this design innovation, manufacturers embed optical waveguides and electrical circuits into a single FPC structure that eliminates using lenses. This improves upon other optical polymer waveguides that hybridly integrate the FPC with electrical traces that requires a “lens” layer.
 
The single layer optical FPC design directly integrates lasers and photo diodes onto the FPC using flip-chip bonding techniques. The resulting simplified physical structure is more flexible and routable at the board level, and it can help streamline the production process. Using such advancements in material science and precision manufacturing can enable production in high volume with higher yield for optical transceivers, active optical cable (AOC) and on-board optics (OBO)—at 100G, 400G and beyond.
 
In comparison, traditional manufacturing methods rely on more complex designs that come with time-consuming and error-prone production processes. We know that eliminating optical fiber assembly can save 20-80 seconds in the final production stage, which can help vendors scale up more quickly and seize market opportunities first.
 

This comparison illustrates traditional vs. integrated FPC technology, which is based upon optics, high-frequency technology, specialized material science and production processes.

This polymer-based design approach also uses significantly less power – as little as 10 percent compared with traditional methods, which means lower operating expenses for customers. That efficiency gives data center infrastructure vendors a great advantage that is especially helpful in regions with high electricity rates.
 
Integrated FPC technology based upon optics, high-frequency technology, specialized material science and production processes provides significantly higher throughput than traditional processes, enables data and cloud providers to expand their capacity more rapidly–with the potential to speed the industry along in the fast lane on the road to 1.2 terabits per second transmission.

Posted: 12 March 2018 by Paul Wu, EVP-Product, Adolite, Inc | with 0 comments

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC)  or its sponsors.

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