The European project TERABOARD is an initiative of the Photonics Public Private Partnership, with a total budget of 4.25 million EURO. The project started on 1 December 2015 with the ambitious goal of transforming the telecommunication area by the introduction of new integrated photonics technologies. www.teraboard.eu
The use of Telecom and Datacom communications have maintained their exponential growth for the past 20 years and does not seem to slow down. The growing number of mobile internet users and services such as Cloud Computing are making use of enormous quantities of data that could lead to important traffic congestion. The challenge for the technology providers will be to increase bandwidth density (Tb/s/cm2) and to decrease consumption by a factor of 1000 by 2022 achieving a data transfer rate of 50Gb/s. However, traditional electrical interconnection becomes increasingly difficult and expensive at such signal speed. Therefore, there is an urgent need for novel technologies able to allow higher bandwidth density in the timeframe of several years. In addition, these new systems must reduce the overall power consumption of the Data Center bringing down the costs and footprint. Interconnections based on photonics are the perfect candidates to achieve this goal due to a larger bandwidth, nearly frequency and length independent loss. Necessarily, the new optical interconnect interfaces must be based on photonic integration and CMOS compatible photonics, the only mass manufacturing technology capable to meet all these requirements.
TERABOARD was launched on December 1st, 2015 to develop a full intra data center photonic platform for intraboard, intrarack and intra data center optical communications by developing advanced intra-board and edge interfaces. The project structure was chosen to strongly reinforce the cooperation among several research institutions and large companies covering the full value chain from R&D to industrial product manufacturing to system applications. By turning innovative ideas into marketable technology, TERABOARD will be able to sustain the Data Center and Cloud traffic growth by achieving: i) ultrahigh density and scalability in bandwidth (50 Tb/s/cm2 bandwidth density), ii) efficient power consumption strategy, a front-end consumption of 2.5 pJ/bit, iii) multiple intra-board interconnections (more than 8) within 40 cm range and iv) a manufacturing total cost of 0.1 $/Gb/s. It must be stressed that these indicators are 10 times better than the commercial state of the art. The key point of TERABOARD technology is to allow the number of operations in a single board increasing, instead of achieving the same number of operations in many boards or in a rack. This is achieved by pushing the PIC (Photonics Integrated Circuits) based on Silicon Photonics technology toward the new frontier of 3D staking, suited for cost-effective volume manufacturing on semiconductor production line merged with dielectrics based 3D photonic integration platform, to guarantee high-density modules and the aggregated bandwidth scalability to afford the market trends.
TERABOARD is a complete solution for scalable low-energy optical interconnections to be used in multiple application scenarios, such as high-speed switch/router line cards, baseband processing units in 5G radio base stations, and next generation data centre multi-server blades. TERABOARD proposes a system based on transceiver miniaturization and low power consumption together with a new method for increasing the interconnection between many node scenarios. All the components and technologies required for that are beyond the basic research and a technological proof is already available corresponding to a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 2. During the duration of the project the maturity will evolve to a degree that permits integration and assemble (TRL 5-6).
With this clear objectives, TERABOARD is going to improve the business opportunities and value creation in Europe, contributing to strengthen industry and R&I. The major goal of TERABOARD is to take CMOS Photonics integration density on a chip beyond the state of the art, opening new market opportunities in communication for data centre arenas, enabling Europe’s industry to stay at the forefront of electronics and photonics developments and applications.