TSMC may cooperate with Nvidia and Broadcom, Advancing silicon photonics technology development
With the brisk advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High-Performance Computing (HPC), the clamor for swifter data center interconnects is surging. Traditional technologies grapple to keep pace with the contemporary epoch, making optical interconnects a viable solution to counteract the limitations in electronic Input/Output (I/O) performance. The fabrication of optoelectronic devices using silicon amalgamates the merits of silicon in terms of mature manufacturing processes, cost-effectiveness, and high integration, while also leveraging the prowess of photonics in high-speed transmission and expansive bandwidth.
According to pertinent media disclosures, TSMC has marshaled a dedicated research and development coterie of approximately 200 connoisseurs, fixated on the incorporation of silicon photonics into future chips. Rumors abound that TSMC aspires to collaborate with luminaries such as NVIDIA and Broadcom to expedite the development of silicon photonic technologies. The components in question span from 45nm to 7nm process technologies, with anticipations of initial product orders materializing in the latter half of 2024, segueing into mass production by 2025.
Amidst escalating data transmission velocities, power consumption and thermal management assume paramount significance. Industry-proposed stratagems encompass the adoption of Co-Packaged Optics (CPO) technology, fusing silicon photonic elements with dedicated integrated circuits. An authoritative figure from TSMC opined that an adept silicon photonic integration system could address the dual pivotal quandaries of energy efficiency and AI computational prowess, possibly heralding the dawn of a novel era.
A myriad of technological titans are vigorously championing the integration of optics and silicon, including Intel. As of December 2021, Intel Laboratories inaugurated the Interconnect Integrated Photonics Research Center, championing research and development in data center integrated photonics, thus laying the groundwork for a decade of computational interconnects. Prior to this, Intel showcased a silicon platform integrated with key optical technology components, encompassing light generation, amplification, detection, modulation, CMOS interface circuitry, and encapsulation.