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GlobalFoundries Debuts Silicon Photonics Platform, Announces Collaborations

Photonics Spectra
May 2022
Concurrent with the introduction of its GF Fotonix silicon photonics platform, GlobalFoundries announced several high-profile collaborations with the potential to significantly boost the platform’s market reach. The platform enables the combination of 300-mm photonics features and 300-GHz-class RF-CMOS on a silicon wafer at scale. The technology consolidates processes that were previously distributed across multiple chips by combining a photonic system, radio frequency components, and high-performance CMOS logic onto a single silicon chip.

Among the collaborators on separate initiatives are Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Marvell, NVIDIA, Ayar Labs, Lightmatter, PsiQuantum, Ranovus, Xanadu, Synopsys, and Cadence.

The technology enabled by the Fotonix platform is expected to address rising data volumes while simultaneously reducing power consumption. GlobalFoundries’ partnership with Cisco Systems will see the development of a custom photonics solution for data center network (DCN) and data center interconnect (DCI) applications, including an interdependent process design kit.
GlobalFoundries’ Fotonix platform enables the manufacture of 300 mm silicon photonics wafers with 300GHz-class RF-CMOS functionality. Courtesy of Ansys.
GlobalFoundries’ Fotonix platform enables the manufacture of 300-mm silicon photonics wafers with 300-GHz-class RF-CMOS functionality. Courtesy of Ansys. 

“We’re working closely with GlobalFoundries to design high-bandwidth, low-power, optical interconnects for some of our leading-edge data center products,” said Edward Lee, vice president of mixed-signal design at NVIDIA. “NVIDIA interconnect solutions manufactured with the monolithic GF Fotonix platform will boost high-performance computing and AI applications, enabling breakthrough advances.”

GF Fotonix will offer broad support for existing chip design software, including compatibility with many of Cadence’s platforms, including its Virtuoso, Spectre, and Voltus-Fi platforms, as well as support for Synopsys’ OptoCompiler and Ansys’ Verilog-A simulation.

Ansys and GlobalFoundries developed the first process file, which enables customers to create custom components to consolidate complex processing onto a single chip. The process file works in tandem with Ansys’ simulation software, which enables designers to simulate 3D geometries with high levels of accuracy in accordance with GlobalFoundries’ design flow and process design kit specifications.

GlobalFoundries will leverage the Ansys Lumerical Photonic Verilog-A Platform, which enables photonics modeling using Verilog-A, an industry standard modeling language for electrical analog circuits. This allows both custom components and foundry process design kit components to be combined in the same circuit, both modeled using Verilog-A, and to run sophisticated bidirectional photonic circuit simulation.

In addition to NVIDIA, Broadcom, Macom, PsiQuantum, and Cisco, Xanadu will be among the first to put the technology into use.

Xanadu is collaborating with GlobalFoundries to take the first steps toward high-volume manufacturing of photonic chips for universal and fault-tolerant quantum computers.

“Many chips, operating in parallel and networked together, are required to process the large number of qubits involved in fault-tolerant quantum computing algorithms,” said Zachary Vernon, head of hardware at Xanadu. “Leveraging an existing advanced 300-mm platform like GF Fotonix gives us a huge advantage in the race to deliver a useful, error-corrected quantum computer.”

The first fully functional devices designed by Xanadu and fabricated by GlobalFoundries are expected to be ready by the end of 2023.

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