IBM Labs Develops Holey Opto Chip Which Can Transfer a Terabit of Data Per Second

IBM scientists have developed an optical transceiver chipset prototype with a GaAs VCSEL dubbed “Holey Optochip”, that the company claims is the first parallel optical transceiver to transfer one terabit of information per second. This is equivalent of downloading 500 high definition movies. The company’s report will be presented at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference in Los Angeles. As an example, the entire library of congress web archive could be transferred in about an hour.

The IBM scientists created 48 holes through a standard silicon CMOS chip. The holes allow optical access through the back of the chip to 24 receiver and 24 transmitter channels to produce an ultra-compact, high-performing and power-efficient optical module capable of record setting data transfer rates.The transceiver chip measures only 5.2 mm x 5.8 mm. Twenty-four channel, industry-standard 850-nm VCSEL and photodiode arrays are directly flip-chip soldered to the Optochip creating chip-scale optical engines. The Holey Optochips are designed for direct coupling to a standard 48-channel multimode fiber array through an efficient microlens optical system that can be assembled with conventional high-volume packaging tools.

IBM claims that the chipset can deliver data eight times faster than parallel optical components available. The company notes that it has a power efficiency (in watts consumed per bit of data transmited) that is among the best ever reported. The transceiver consumes just 5 Watts.