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Labs receives DOE grant to develop ultra-efficient optical interconnect

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By Curt Hopkins, Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

Hewlett Packard Labs has been awarded a grant of $3.5 million from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, generally known as ARPA-E. Labs is to develop an ultra-energy-efficient integrated dense wavelength division multiplexing optical interconnect solution. In other words, ultra-low-energy consumption,  high-speed technology for transmitting data as light in high-performance computing systems, data centers and many other potential applications.

In still other – and fewer, and simpler – words: They’re going to make light carry a lot more information with even less consumed energy than it already does. Making optics and photonics easier and more affordable to use in communications and computing, and more efficient, means innovating with light will become an even greener enterprise.

Leading the project are HPE Senior Research Scientist Di Liang and Senior Fellow Ray Beausoleil, head of the Large-Scale Integrated Photonics (LSIP) group at Labs. The LSIP group will unite recent breakthroughs in low-cost silicon photonic manufacturing and advanced photonic chip designs to benefit HPE’s Memory-Driven Computing business. The goal is to create a fully-integrated optical transceiver capable of sending data faster than 1,000 gigabytes per second over 40 simultaneous channels, even in rigorous practical operating conditions with widely varying temperatures.

This project is built upon decades-long R&D breakthroughs in the LSIP group at Labs,” says Liang.  

According to Liang, the success of this challenge will benefit other Memory-Driven Computing projects like PathForward, the DOE exascale computing project, and subsequent programs. It can also push forward a number of other emerging applications requiring low-cost, volume photonic solutions, like IoT, neuromorphic computing, and sensing.

“It is a great opportunity to strengthen both our ties with DOE, as well as the internal collaborative working relationships that have been responsible for our continuing culture of innovation,” says Liang.

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Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs