Integrated circuits for high-speed wireline transceivers
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Integrated circuits for high-speed wireline transceivers

If we want optical transceivers to keep up with exploding data rates, all building blocks need to handle higher speeds. Imec’s combined expertise helps you to achieve that +100Gbaud goal.

Terabits per second. That’s the speed you’re expected to deliver if you’re working on the optical links that can keep up with the exploding data-rate needs of current and future digital applications. Whether it’s for inter/intra data center traffic, metro, long-haul and front-haul connections, and increasingly even optical access networks. 

However, increasing the capacity of optical transceivers is only one half of the story. The other is that you need to accomplish this while limiting the energy use. The best way to do this? Bring the optical links closer to the CPU and network processors. 

Imec is ready to help you with that double challenge. Tap into our design expertise for the development of high-speed electronic and photonic integrated circuits that empower your transceivers for the terabit era. 

Read this in-depth research update

Read our 2022 press release on a key building block for the deployment of 100G PON networks

High-speed electronic ICs for wireline transceivers

Our researchers work on various electronic components within both intensity modulation/direct detection (IMDD) and coherent transceivers. The goal is always the same: enable the switch from today’s typical 50 Gbaud operation towards 100 or even 120 Gbaud.

Scaled CMOS electronics

Imec’s work on next-generation ADCs and DACs and phase-locked loops results in 5- and even 3nm CMOS devices that combine ultra-high bandwidths with very low power consumption. On the receiver side, we’ve put together a 100 Gbaud PAM-4 clock and data recovery (CDR) that is compatible with this new ADC approach.

SiGe BiCMOS electronics

In analog components such as drivers and receivers, electronics that can generate signals above 100 Gbaud used to be the domain of compound semiconductors such as InP. Imec’s novel approach enables the use of the more mainstream Si BiCMOS. Here are some examples of devices that were designed at imec. Some have already been demonstrated.

  • 4-channel linear transimpedance amplifier with up to 128 Gbaud operation and bandwidths as high as 60 GHz
  • 4-channel linear Mach-Zehnder modulator driver with 128 Gbaud operation and bandwidths as high as 90 GHz
  • 120 Gbaud PAM-4 (240 Gbit/s) multiplexer/equalizer with 3 dB bandwidth in excess of 80 GHz chip output

Generating these ultra-high bandwidths is a lot less straightforward in Si CMOS than in Si BiCMOS. At imec, we therefore explore the solution of shifting some of the bandwidth requirements from the Si CMOS chip towards the Si BiCMOS driver chip by interleaving in the analog domain. A few examples:

  • 4-channel driver combo-chip – 2:1 multiplexer and broadband driver with 2 x 53 Gbaud PAM-4 in and 1 x 106 Gbaud PAM-4 out per channel, and including a low-jitter 50 GH PLL
  • analog domain multiplexer with 100 Gbaud input and 2 x 50 Gbaud output

High-speed photonic ICs for wireline transceivers

By combining its high-speed electronics and silicon photonics expertise, imec also works on the tighter integration of electronic and optical components in photonic ICs, such as an optical domain equalizer that combines equalization and modulation in a single device.

This project received funding from the PhotonDelta National Growth Fund program.

Read our flyer about micro-transfer printing for heterogeneously integrated photonic integrated circuits.

Work with us

Are you looking for a partner to develop advanced integrated circuits for wireline infrastructures? Then imec is your single point of contact for a range of world-leading expertise in high-speed electronics, scaled CMOS and silicon photonics.

Get in touch for support with the design of complex devices tuned to your specifications. Or for samples of our existing designs.

Let’s talk