Optical Receiver For Green, Larger-capacity Optical Interconnect Systems


IBM Research has demonstrated a novel optical receiver (RX) that can achieve an aggregate bandwidth of 160 Gb/s through four optical fibers, which the researchers claim as the fastest data transmission speed to date. Not only this, to improve power efficiency in optical interconnect system, the researchers developed the rapid on/off functionality for the receiver, so that links can be powered off during idle time and powered back on when the data is ready to be transmitted.

“The optical receiver features the link power-on/off functionality and can wake-up and achieve phase-lock in eight nanoseconds, the shortest switch time in record”, the company reckons.

According to the researchers, the rapid power-on/off feature will enhance link utilization and greatly reduce energy consumption on a chip or in an optical interconnect system.


The novel design, packaged with an 850-nanometer photodiode array, targets low-cost VCSEL-based optical links for data center interconnects.

“With the increasing popularization of data centers and other bandwidth-hungry interconnect applications, today’s bandwidth growth of short-distance optical networks demands data transmission speeds of more than 100 Gb/s, calling for the development of energy-efficient, multi-channel optical links with fast data transfer rates”, IBM notes in the announcment.

“This is the first optical an receiver that combines high-speed data transmission rate and rapid power-on and off functionality while being extremely low lower in the ‘power-on’ state (about 88 miliwatts),” said Alessandro Cevrero, the primary author of the paper and a scientist of IBM Research Lab, Switzerland.

The researchers’ next steps are to validate a complete optical interconnect system including the optical transmitter, and to test data reception at 56Gbit/s/channel. They will present their innovation at OFC 2018, 11-15 March, San Diego, California, USA.

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