Optical interconnection networks for high-performance computing systems.

Lightwave Research Laboratory, Department of Electrical Engineering, Columbia University, 1300 Seeley W Mudd, 500 West 120th Street, New York 10027, USA.
Reports on Progress in Physics (Impact Factor: 15.63). 04/2012; 75(4):046402. DOI: 10.1088/0034-4885/75/4/046402
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Enabled by silicon photonic technology, optical interconnection networks have the potential to be a key disruptive technology in computing and communication industries. The enduring pursuit of performance gains in computing, combined with stringent power constraints, has fostered the ever-growing computational parallelism associated with chip multiprocessors, memory systems, high-performance computing systems and data centers. Sustaining these parallelism growths introduces unique challenges for on- and off-chip communications, shifting the focus toward novel and fundamentally different communication approaches. Chip-scale photonic interconnection networks, enabled by high-performance silicon photonic devices, offer unprecedented bandwidth scalability with reduced power consumption. We demonstrate that the silicon photonic platforms have already produced all the high-performance photonic devices required to realize these types of networks. Through extensive empirical characterization in much of our work, we demonstrate such feasibility of waveguides, modulators, switches and photodetectors. We also demonstrate systems that simultaneously combine many functionalities to achieve more complex building blocks. We propose novel silicon photonic devices, subsystems, network topologies and architectures to enable unprecedented performance of these photonic interconnection networks. Furthermore, the advantages of photonic interconnection networks extend far beyond the chip, offering advanced communication environments for memory systems, high-performance computing systems, and data centers.