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Prototype On-Board Optics Module Hits Record Bandwidth, Cuts Data-Center Power Use

Nov. 4, 2022
Kyocera's prototype module offers 512-Gb/s bandwidth, which is currently the world record using the Peripheral Component Interconnect Express 5.0 (PCIe Gen 5) extended interface standard.

The Overview

Kyocera Corp. has developed an on-board optics module that achieves world-record bandwidth of 512 Gb/s. The module is expected to support high-speed network applications, such as data centers. In addition, the module decreases power consumption over conventional alternatives and will promote sustainability.

Who Needs It & Why?

Artificial intelligence, the IoT, and 5G services create enormous demand for internet traffic and fast, high-bandwidth data centers. As a result, the data-center industry is becoming a power hog. Reducing the power consumption of these facilities is paramount for environmental and infrastructure concerns.

Because Kyocera’s on-board optics module features a miniaturized form factor that enables mounting the device inside servers and near CPUs, the devices can instantaneously convert data signals into optical signals. Unlike conventional optical modules that include relatively long runs of copper conductors, the prototype eliminates much of that copper, improving signal-to-noise ratio and signal losses (see figure, top).

In the future, to support innovations like autonomous driving and the metaverse, more data centers will need to be built to reduce latency and shorten the distance to end users. According to Kyocera, its on-board optics module promises to contribute to miniaturization by achieving high speed and large capacity in a small form factor, allowing data centers to be built in urban and other higher-population-density areas.

Under the Hood 

The largest bandwidth among on-board optics on the market today is 100 Gb/s. Kyocera’s module achieves a world-record 512-Gb/s bandwidth, over 5X greater than conventional products, while consuming just 9 W (equivalent to 18 mW/Gb/s). Such large bandwidth is possible because the module uses the company’s low-temperature co-fired ceramic (LTCC) mounting substrate, which offers material characteristics such as fine wiring, low dielectric constant, multilayering, and thermal conductivity.

Measuring a mere 43.5 × 30 × 8.1 mm (except for four pairs of fiber-optic arrays), the module delivers its world-record bandwidth in a limited space, carrying 16 channels of 32 Gb/s/channel (see figure, bottom). The device’s electrical interface comprises high-speed, high-density connector plugs for power and signal lines. Its optical interface comprises four sets of eight-channel multimode optical fibers, each set carrying four channels of optical signal transmission and reception.

Kyocera is continuing to test this technology with partner companies to achieve commercialization as early as possible.