The Journey Continues: People, Parties, and Proof Points

by | Jun 16, 2019

As I sit on the first flight to ISC’19 (International Supercomputing Conference), I can’t help but reflect back on the last two weeks and all that’s been going on at Ayar Labs…

We’ve had several new hires, including Vladimir Stojanovic, a co-founder of Ayar Labs who is now on-board full time leading system architecture. In the short time he’s been on board we’ve already engaged with several partners and customers to scope out novel I/O solutions for their platforms.

Once again, we had members of our leadership team speaking at various scientific conferences. Roy Mead, VP of Manufacturing, spoke at ECTC on “Photonics on the Cutting-Edge of Technology Evolution” and Mark Wade, President and co-founder, was at SPHPC presenting a paper on “In-Package Optical I/O: Solving the Electrical I/O Bottleneck”.

However, one of the most notable events was the opening of our second office in Santa Clara, CA… right in the heart of Silicon Valley. We celebrated this milestone with a grand opening party attended by about 200 employees, family members, industry partners, investors, and customers. We also had several guest speakers from GlobalFoundries and Intel (see below) talk to the industry need for in-package photonics — In a nutshell, as the amount of data and the need to move it continues to grow exponentially, optical I/O will be required to continue to drive performance and improve power efficiency of semiconductors.

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Dr. Rajeeva Lahri, Vice President Business Operations at GlobalFoundries
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Jose Alvarez, Sr. Director CTO Office at Intel
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Dan Klowden, Director of Engineering at Intel

At the risk of over simplifying, allow me to elaborate… currently, computer chips use copper pins and wires to move data with electricity. However, the number of electrical pins you can connect to a chip is limited by the shoreline of the silicon and each pin can only transfer a certain amount of data. This technique has been used for decades but today it’s reaching its limits — CPUs and other computing elements, such as FPGAs and custom ASICs, are bottlenecked waiting for data from memory and/or from another device. The amount of power used to transfer that data is also unsustainable.

Ayar Labs is building technology that uses light to transfer data instead of electricity (in-package photonics). This enables more data to move in and out chips faster and at lower power. The net result: computers will be able to solve bigger problems faster (better weather prediction, better medicines, safer cars, etc) and 5G networks can handle more calls and data (you can stream that movie faster and with fewer glitches on your smart phone), to name just a few benefits.

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A TeraPHY wafer that’s gone through the “handle replace” post processing step

We also reached another key milestone in the production of the TeraPHY chiplet: we got back our first batch of wafers that have gone through handle-replace… a critical step that allows optical fiber to attach to the silicon (I’ll let Mark Wade talk to this more in his next blog).

And now the journey continues… This week our CEO Charlie Wuischpard and I will be attending ISC’19 in Frankfurt to meet with the HPC’s leading researchers, national labs, and industry partners. It’ll be Ayar Labs’ first time at this conference and I’m excited to meet many of my good friends and colleagues and share our technology. If you happen to be there and want to connect, please reach out by linked-in! See you on the road…

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