Aerospace & Defense

SWaP-optimized optical I/O for high-bandwidth, low-latency, low-power, EMI-immune data transfer for aerospace and defense

Battlespace interconnectivity and real-time decision-making demand low-latency, high-bandwidth, low-power data transfer. For next-generation aerospace and defense applications, Ayar Labs’ in-package optical I/O eliminates the bottlenecks created by electrical I/O in SWaP-constrained applications, including artificial intelligence, high performance computing, and disaggregated systems.


Optical I/O has 5x higher data rates

To increase next-gen radar precision and fidelity, the grids used in beamforming architectures must grow at an exponential rate, resulting in a dramatic expansion in the bandwidth required to transmit data from antennas to processing units in real time. Each TeraPHY™ chiplet delivers a bidirectional bandwidth of 4 Tbps.


Optical I/O provides 8x more power efficiency in a 12x smaller footprint

Per a Lockheed Martin Corporation assessment in their converged-aperture architecture, Ayar Labs’ optical I/O solution delivers a 7x bandwidth improvement, a 5x decrease in power consumption, and a 12x footprint reduction versus a commercial state-of-the-art system. (The performance of individual Ayar Labs components in other systems may differ.)

EMI Immune

Optical I/O is unaffected by electromagnetic interference

Electrical I/O requires shielding against EMI, which adds size and weight. Optical I/O is not only immune to EMI, it also transfers data over longer distances — from mm to km, and it is significantly lighter and more compact. This enables new disaggregated architectures, such as placing sensors on the wings and nose of a jet and using optical I/O to quickly move data to processing units in the center of the plane.

Solving Critical Data Movement Challenges in Aerospace and Defense

Advances in communication systems hinge on lightning-fast movement of huge amounts of data among radar systems, aircraft, vehicles, ships, and satellites. The problem is that copper-based I/O solutions can no longer deliver improvements related to size, weight, and power (SwaP), or the system architectures needed to propel complex aerospace applications forward. Ayar Labs’ in-package optical I/O provides breakthrough capabilities in size, weight, power, bandwidth, latency, distance, and EMI immunity to support new architectures.

“As the complexity and amount of data grows on the battlefield, faster decision-making is essential. New innovative system architectures, coupled with AI and machine learning techniques, are needed for our customers’ mission success. Ayar Labs’ optical interconnect solution provides the necessary technology to process spectral information with greater speed and lower latency for next-generation system designs.”

– Steve Walker, CTO & VP, Engineering & Technology, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Accelerating Data Movement in Mission-Critical Systems with Optical I/O

Aerospace and defense companies face significant technical hurdles in developing data-intensive solutions for communications. One of the most critical challenges exists at the I/O level: architectures of the future require data processing and power-related performance beyond what today’s copper-based I/O can deliver. Ayar Labs’ in-package optical I/O solution addresses six key challenges for aerospace:


      • Rapidly increasing bandwidth demands
      • Size, weight, and power-related tradeoffs in solution components
      • New architectural requirements
      • Electromagnetic interference challenges
      • Long-distance signal transmission needs
      • Space and scalability challenges related to cable connections

Six Reasons the Aerospace Sector Needs Optical I/O Solutions

Our Aerospace and Defense Partners

Converged-Sensor Platforms

A new approach to battlespace interconnectivity looks at an alternative to siloed sensor systems. Siloed systems use sensors with dedicated processing and storage tasks, limiting their usefulness and interoperability in changing situations. To overcome these restrictions, Lockheed Martin Corporation is exploring converged-aperture system architectures. With this approach, platforms use high-performance radio frequency (RF) and electro-optic/infrared (EOIR) sensors for multiple tasks, shared across different back-end processing systems. Higher bandwidth and other requirements are needed to support new phased-array sensor suites.

Enabling Data-Intensive, Real-Time Battlefield Communication: The Role of Silicon Photonics in Next-Gen Converged-Sensor Platforms

Lockheed assessed Ayar Labs’ in-package optical I/O solution as an enabling technology for converged-aperture platforms. The assessment showed 7x bandwidth improvement, 5x energy efficiency increase, and 12x footprint reduction for the overall system versus leading conventional commercial solutions. (Performance metrics are based on Lockheed Martin’s overall system design. The performance of individual Ayar Labs components in other systems may differ.)

Optical I/O: Designing the Future of Digital Beamforming and Antenna Arrays

Phased Array Radar Systems and Digital Beamforming

Digital beamforming, which uses a large number of elements in antenna arrays, is the core technology driving advanced radar and communications systems for the aerospace industry. Phased array radar demands increasingly higher fidelity, which requires more elements generating more data. Only optical I/O from Ayar Labs provides the bandwidth density needed to deliver precise, higher fidelity phased array radar.

Optical Interconnects for Future Advanced Antenna Systems: Architectures, Requirements and Technologies

Ayar Labs’ Optical I/O Solution

As the semiconductor industry embraces the chiplet revolution, Ayar Labs’ in-package optical I/O solution is redefining I/O capabilities. Our groundbreaking TeraPHY in-package optical I/O chiplet and CW-WDM MSA-compliant SuperNova light source combine to deliver an I/O solution that obliterates traditional I/O bottlenecks and overcomes process constraints, unlocking revolutionary architectures for artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), disaggregated data centers, 6G, phased array sensor systems, and more.

Aerospace & Defense Resources

TeraPHY enabled compute nodes

SwaP-Friendly Architectures Using Digital Beamforming and Optical I/O

The power and sophistication of modern radar systems is growing by leaps and bounds. These systems already offer capabilities that couldn’t have been dreamed of just a few short years ago. Furthermore, ongoing developments mean that these systems are poised to revolutionize sensing applications. However, there is a data bandwidth bottleneck that must be overcome to take full advantage of these state-of-the-art technologies.

Unleashing Opportunities in the Aerospace Industry with Optical I/O

Unleashing Opportunities in the Aerospace Industry with Optical I/O

Tasked with maintaining a competitive footing worldwide, aerospace and defense organizations are increasingly exploring emerging technologies and architectural advances to address current challenges. These challenges include improving communications, strengthening defensive measures, enabling autonomous vehicle and unmanned aircraft operations, and engaging in battlefield operations that demand lightning-fast, coordinated information processing and interconnected systems capable of intelligent, real-time decision-making.

TeraPHY enabled compute nodes

Converged RF Phased Arrays Enabled by Silicon Photonics

This paper proposes a converged-aperture architecture to enable dynamic reconfiguration of spectral access between platform mission functions. Based on phased-array apertures, intra-platform data throughputs required to support the envisioned architecture are discussed, and integrated photonic transceivers are put forward as a critical enabling technology. Published in 2022 IEEE International Symposium on Phased Array Systems & Technology (PAST)

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