Collaborating with GlobalFoundries® to Develop their New Fotonix Next-Generation Silicon Photonics Process

by | Mar 7, 2022

Ayar Labs & GlobalFoundries

“Ayar Labs is a really early partner of ours. They worked with us very early, even before we had the formal definition of what a photonics platform would be. They were working toward a vision of using high volume manufacturing, high volume process control and existing CMOS materials to realize their vision of photonics. So, it gives me great pleasure and pride to see how far they’ve come from those early days of formulating what could be with CMOS to where they are today with working silicon in a monolithic silicon photonics process in 45 nanometer.” [Watch Video]

– Anthony Yu, Vice President of Silicon Photonics at GF

GlobalFoundries® (GF®) announced GF Fotonix, its next generation, monolithic silicon photonics platform, today at the Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) Conference. This is an exciting development for us at Ayar Labs because in addition to GF being a strategic investor, we were one of their earliest partners in developing this process. Seven years ago, we started working with GF to develop a method using high volume manufacturing, high volume process control, and existing CMOS materials to realize our vision for integrated photonics. We realized that if we wanted optical I/O to become a ubiquitous technology in every single data center and every computer, we had to solve a series of problems, not just focus on the device technology itself. This is what drove us to build our technology in a high volume, seamless, 300-millimeter foundry and start working on all of the ecosystem pieces of the solution that needed to come together.

One of the first things we did was to reach out to GF in 2015 and explore collaboration in a strategic engagement. We worked together to build a next-generation process that’s optimized for photonics and electronics and provides the underlying foundry technologies that will allow for high volume manufacturing of our Optical I/O solution. GF Fotonix provides for a new photonics solution that offers a small-footprint, low-power, high-throughput alternative to copper backplane and pluggable optics communications. In December of 2020, we demonstrated the first working silicon on the new platform, and then in June 2021 we demonstrated the industry’s first terabit optical link for co-packaged optics and chip-to-chip connectivity.

“The significance of working silicon … in our next generation 45 nanometer platform puts in-package optical I/O using photonics on the cusp of high volume manufacturing and a much wider proliferation of photonics into the industry. This is a game changer. The combination of the economics of scale and the capability of the product is going to change our world.”

– Anthony Yu, Vice President of Silicon Photonics at GF

TeraPHY™, our monolithic in-package optical I/O chiplet, combined with SuperNova™, our multi-wavelength optical source, will eliminate I/O bottlenecks, transcend process limitations, and unleash innovative new architectures. This combination of performance and efficiency enables chips to communicate with each other across a wide range of distances, from millimeters to kilometers.

GF Fotonix is GlobalFoundries’ next generation, monolithic platform, that is the first in the industry to combine its 300mm photonics features and 300GHz-class RF-CMOS on a silicon wafer.  It is designed to deliver best-in-class performance at scale and will be used to develop innovative photonic compute and sensing applications. Ayar Labs also helped GF develop an advanced electro-optic PDK that will be released in Q2, 2022 and will be integrated into many leading EDA vendors design tools. Chips built on this technology will be deployed in myriad industries, including automotive (LIDAR), quantum computing, consumer optical networks such as fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), 5G networks, telecommunications, data center transmissions, time-of-flight (TOF) sensors, aeronautics, and defense.

It’s a very exciting time for us as the years of development invested in this manufacturing process, along with strategic partnerships with key manufacturers such as GF and MACOM, a leading supplier of lasers  for telecommunications and data center applications, come to fruition. We are also continuing to partner with Intel and have recently announced a new multi-year collaboration with HPE to design future silicon photonics solutions for their Slingshot interconnect and advanced disaggregated server architectures

We are now set to deliver substantial volume shipments to customers by year end. Working with the right manufacturing partners, in combination with our leading technology and key customer commitments, our team at Ayar Labs is making optical I/O a reality.

See a video of the first working silicon demonstrated on GF’s Fotonix manufacturing process.

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