Earlier today Intel announced Barefoot, Intel’s network division has successfully integrated its 1.6 Tbps silicon photonics engine with its 12.8 Tbps programmable Ethernet switch. This co-packaged solution melds together the essential technology building blocks for integrated optics on an Ethernet switch.
“Our co-packaged optics demonstration is the first step to making optical I/O with silicon photonics a reality. We share the industry belief that co-packaged optics offers power and density advantages for switches at 25 Tbps and higher, and ultimately is a necessary and enabling technology for bandwidth scalability in future networks. The timing of this demonstration shows the technology is ready to support our customers’ requirements.”
–Hong Hou, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Silicon Photonics Products Division
Optimized for hyperscale data centers, the co-packaged switch seeks to meet the need for limitless bandwidth. This demo brings together the best of Intel’s silicon photonics and Barefoot’s programmable Ethernet switch technology. The integrated switch package used in this demonstration has a P4-programmable Barefoot Tofino™ 2 switch ASIC co-packaged with 1.6 Tbps silicon photonics engines from Intel’s Silicon Photonics Product Division.
“As switch chips scale to meet requirements for demand of limitless bandwidth in cloud-scale data centers, the need for power- and cost-effective interconnect is critical,” said Ed Doe, vice president and general manager of the Barefoot Division. “We have designed our Tofino 2 switch series using leading edge multi-die technology that enables interface flexibility, making it easier for us to integrate and create a scalable co-packaged solution with our silicon photonics products. This has empowered us to deliver an industry-first solution that will greatly advance the future of data center infrastructure and architectures.”
Excerpt From Intel’s Press release
More about the Silicon Photonics Engine: The silicon photonics interconnect platform features 1.6 Tbps photonic engines realized as 4 ports of 400GBase-DR4 interfaces, designed and manufactured in the Intel silicon photonics platform. The engines are modular arrays of transceivers built around integrated silicon photonics chips with on-chip lasers and high-speed modulators and detectors, representing the evolution of the silicon photonics platform that has shipped in more than 3 million units of 100G pluggable transceivers and powers the 200G and 400G pluggable modules ramping to volume this year. Highlighting the modularity and flexibility of the co-packaged switch platform developed by Intel, the integrated switch package features a combination of co-packaged optical ports and copper ports supporting front-plate cages for optical modules or copper cables.
Intel purchased Barefoot last year and this demonstration is a glimpse as to why Intel made this acquisition. Intel sees Barefoot Networks as an emerging leader in Ethernet switch silicon and software.