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Now for Something Completely Different: Interconnect Based on Quantum Dots

Brian Santo
9/16/2016
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The new 200Gbit/s optical transceiver from Ranovus Inc. may come in the standard CFP2 format commonly used in data centers and other networking applications, but it is based on some decidedly non-standard technology that the company claims makes its interconnect the lowest cost available with the lowest power consumption per bit.

The Canadian startup bases its transceivers on quantum dot lasers.

Physics gets weird at the quantum level, where materials are apt to exhibit characteristics they don't even hint at having at the macro scale. Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor structures that have a healthy set of interesting properties, but the traits most pertinent to optical interconnect are that they can emit light, and that those emissions are tuneable across multiple wavelengths.

In fact, Ranovus has engineered its quantum dots so they can emit multiple wavelengths simultaneously.

The lower-cost Ranovus claims it derives in large part from that ability. The company says ring resonators based on silicon photonic modulators provide an efficient wavelength-sensitive way to modulate a WDM optical signal without multiplexing or de-multiplexing architectures.


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Other features include electronics that enable PAM4 modulation format for Ethernet interfaces at 50 Gbit/s per lane, and beyond; support of links of 4.8 Tbit/s in the C-band; and support of various DCI transport distances from 15 to 120km, according to Ranovus.

Accompanying the 200Gbit/s CFP2 optical transceiver solution in its debut is a scalable Optical Engine.

Using the company's silicon photonics and high speed IC building blocks "will enable the creation of a new miniaturization, cost and power consumption paradigm for inter/intra data center connectivity, 5G wireless backhaul, Metro and Access networks," said Hamid Arabzadeh, president and CEO of Ranovus.

One of the first companies to endorse the use of the Ranovus products is ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) , which contributed the following quote from Christoph Glingener, the company's CTO/COO.

"Data center operators have been looking for a long time for a disruptive solution to achieve scalable multi-terabits bandwidth connectivity in a form factor that consumes less power and is much less expensive than other available products," Glingener said. "That's why our relationship with the team at Ranovus is so important. Together, we're developing direct-detect DCI technology that will have a significant impact on the market."

Ranovus said it is working on a 400Gbit/s version in the CFP8 form factor.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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Hamid-Arabzadeh
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Hamid-Arabzadeh,
User Rank: Light Beer
9/18/2016 | 8:29:00 AM
Great title Brian ...
This was my opening line when I was presenting at VC and Startup conferences where no one was interested in hardware core technology and I was going after software startups ... that have a SaaS model for selling you razor blades with $B valuation. Physics based disruptions don't happen overnight and at times they don't get the attention they deserves.
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