The roadmap for communications divides into two primary pathswireless and optical. While copper cabling won’t go away, data rates keep increasing, making optical the best choice especially when distance exceeds a few meters. Optical is also getting cheaper and better each year.
Recognizing this, Intel’s Light Peak technology targets consumer electronics, PC peripherals, and other short-range fast communications applications. It may eventually replace or at least complement USB, hopefully eliminating the need for a multitude of different cables and connectors.
Ensphere Solutions is one of the first companies to address the forthcoming Light Peak optical transport technology. Its ESI-XVR10100 single-chip optical transceiver provides 10-Gbit/s full-duplex communications over optical fiber up to 100 m. It puts everything you need for optical transport on a single chip and works with Intel’s forthcoming Light Peak controller (Fig. 1).
The receiver (RX) uses a PIN diode for its input. The transmitter (TX) uses an 850- nm vertical-cavity surfaceemitting laser (VCSEL) diode for output. The chip includes two TX and RX ports, both of which deliver 10 Gbits/s. Its flexible architecture supports multiple diagnostic modes and a comprehensive set of power- management modes. The ESI-XVR10100 is made with 65-nm CMOS that provides the lowest power dissipation and cost with the flexibility to offer variations and customization for a broad range of applications.
Intel’s Light Peak module will be far smaller, lighter, and cheaper than current small form-factor pluggable (SFP) 10-Gbit/s optical transceivers (Fig. 2). It will operate over 125-µm fiber up to 100 m long, but it usually will cover a shorter distance. It’s designed for video storage units, printers, webcams, and other PC peripherals as well as TV sets, set-top boxes, DVD players, and other consumer products. It will also support legacy protocols such as HDMI, DisplayPort, PCI Express, and other high-speed serial interfaces. And it’s expected to easily scale to 100 Gbits/s, making it a good long-term (more than 10 years) interface solution.
The ESI-XVR10100 is available in sample quantities with full production at the end of the year.