Theses Doctoral

Silicon Photonic Subsystems for Inter-Chip Optical Networks

Gazman, Alexander

The continuous growth of electronic compute and memory nodes in terms of the number of I/O pins, bandwidth, and areal throughput poses major integration and packaging challenges associated with offloading multi-Tbit/s data rates within the few pJ/bit targets. While integrated photonics are already deployed in long and short distances such as inter and intra data centers communications, the promising characteristics of the silicon photonic platform set it as the future technology for optical interconnects in ultra short inter-chip distances. The high index contrast between the waveguide and the cladding together with strong thermo-optic and carrier effects in silicon allows developing a wide range of micro-scale and low power optical devices compatible with the CMOS fabrication processes. Furthermore, the availability of photonic foundries and new electrical and optical co-packaging techniques further pushes this platform for the next steps of commercial deployment.
The work in this dissertation presents the current trends in high-performance memory and processor nodes and gives motivation for disaggregated and reconfigurable inter-chip network enabled with the silicon photonic layer. A dense WDM transceiver and broadband switch architectures are discussed to support a bi-directional network of ten hybrid-memory cubes (HMC) interconnected to ten processor nodes with an overall aggregated bandwidth of 9.6Tbit/s. Latency and energy consumption are key performance parameters in a processor to primary memory nodes connectivity. The transceiver design is based on energy-efficient micro-ring resonators, and the broadband switch is constructed with 2x2 Mach-Zehnder elements for nano-second reconfiguration. Each transceiver is based on hundreds of micro-rings to convert the native HMC electrical protocol to the optical domain and the switch is based on tens of hundreds of 2x2 elements to achieve non-blocking all-to-all connectivity.
The next chapters focus on developing methods for controlling and monitoring such complex and highly integrated silicon photonic subsystems. The thermo-optic effect is characterized and we show experimentally that the phase of the optical carrier can be reliably controlled with pulse-width modulation (PWM) signal, ultimately relaxing the need for hundreds of digital to analog converters (DACs). We further show that doped waveguide heaters can be utilized as \textit{in-line} optical power monitors by measuring photo-conductance current, which is an alternative for the conventional tapping and integration of photo-diodes.
The next part concerned with a common cascaded micro-ring resonator in a WDM transceiver design. We develop on an FPGA control algorithm that abstracts the physical layer and takes user-defined inputs to set the resonances to the desired wavelength in a unicast and multicast transmission modes. The associated sensitivities of these silicon ring resonators are presented and addressed with three closed-loop solutions. We first show a closed-loop operation based on tapping the error signal from the drop port of the micro-ring. The second solution presents a resonance wavelength locking with a single digital I/O for control and feedback signals. Lastly, we leverage the photo-conductance effect and demonstrate the locking procedure using only the doped heater for both control and feedback purposes.
To achieve the inter-chip reconfigurability we discuss recent advances of high-port-count SiP broadband switches for reconfigurable inter-chip networks. To ensure optimal operation in terms of low insertion loss, low cross-talk and high signal integrity per routing path, hundreds of 2x2 Mach-Zehnder elements need to be biased precisely for the cross and bar states. We address this challenge with a tapless and a design agnostic calibration approach based on the photo-conductance effect. The automated algorithm returns a look-up table for all for each 2x2 element and the associated calibrated biases. Each routing scenario is then tested for insertion loss, crosstalk and bit-error rate of 25Gbit/s 4-level pulse amplitude modulation signals. The last part utilizes the Mach-Zehnder interferometers in WDM transceiver applications. We demonstrate a polarization insensitive four-channel WDM receiver with 40Gbit/s per channel and a transmitter design generating 8-level pulse amplitude modulation signals at 30Gbit/s.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Bergman, Keren
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 25, 2019