Silicon Photonics for High-Performance Interconnection Networks

Aleksandr Biberman

Silicon Photonics for High-Performance Interconnection Networks
Biberman, Aleksandr
Thesis Advisor(s):
Bergman, Keren
Ph.D., Columbia University
Electrical Engineering
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We assert in the course of this work that silicon photonics has 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. This work showcases that chip-scale photonic interconnection networks, enabled by high-performance silicon photonic devices, enable 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 this 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. Furthermore, we leverage the unique properties of available silicon photonic materials to create novel silicon photonic devices, subsystems, network topologies, and architectures to enable unprecedented performance of these photonic interconnection networks and computing systems. We show that 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. Furthermore, we explore the immense potential of all-optical functionalities implemented using parametric processing in the silicon platform, demonstrating unique methods that have the ability to revolutionize computation and communication. Silicon photonics enables new sets of opportunities that we can leverage for performance gains, as well as new sets of challenges that we must solve. Leveraging its inherent compatibility with standard fabrication techniques of the semiconductor industry, combined with its capability of dense integration with advanced microelectronics, silicon photonics also offers a clear path toward commercialization through low-cost mass-volume production. Combining empirical validations of feasibility, demonstrations of massive performance gains in large-scale systems, and the potential for commercial penetration of silicon photonics, the impact of this work will become evident in the many decades that follow.
Electrical engineering
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Suggested Citation:
Aleksandr Biberman, , Silicon Photonics for High-Performance Interconnection Networks, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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