Lightelligence introduces optical interconnect for composable data center architectures

Lightelligence, provider of photonic computing and connectivity systems, has announced Photowave, the first optical communications hardware designed for PCIe and Compute Express Link (CXL) connectivity, unleashing next-generation workload efficiency.

Photowave, an Optical Networking (oNET) transceiver leveraging the significant latency and energy efficiency of photonics technology, empowers data center managers to scale resources within or across server racks. The first public demonstration of Photowave will be at Flash Memory Summit through Thursday, August 10, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Photowave’s optical CXL hardware in a low-profile PCIe form factor gives data center managers the ability to scale resources within or across server racks and leverage the latency and energy efficiency of photonics technology. Source: Lightelligence

With the unveiling of Photowave, Lightelligence delivers on its promise of a new computing paradigm using photonics. Today’s product release follows Lightelligence’s introduction of Hummingbird™, an Optical Network-on-Chip (oNOC) processor for domain-specific artificial intelligence (AI) workloads in June, and PACE, the world’s first integrated photonic computing system for Optical Multiply Accumulate (oMAC) in late 2021.

“We are more than excited to unveil the next piece of our product portfolio,” comments Yichen Shen, CEO of Lightelligence. “Photowave will soon set the standard for workload efficiency. It makes it possible to build scalable computing and accelerator pods with just the right amount of resources.”

Introducing Photowave

As compute and memory stranding becomes an increasingly costly issue for data center workloads, the industry-backed CXL standard enables the disaggregation of compute, accelerator, and memory resources to reduce stranding of resources while improving infrastructure efficiency. The current Ethernet-based infrastructure carries too much latency overhead to enable this disaggregation.

Photowave provides a solution by interconnecting remote devices together using CXL over lower-latency fiber optic cable, extending reach to enable memory pooling at pod scales and beyond. This facilitates scalable CXL fabrics in the composable data center.

The Photowave product line includes various form factors, including a standard PCIe card, OCP 3.0 SFF card, and an active optical cable to achieve successful deployment of CXL-based infrastructure enhancements. They can be used in server platforms, CXL switches, memory appliances, and xPUs.

Photowave enables CXL 2.0/PCIe Gen 5 connectivity over optics with support for x16, x8, x4 and x2 bifurcation modes of operation, allowing for a wide variety of deployment scenarios. In addition to high-speed electrical-to-optical conversion for the data signals, Photowave also supports sideband signals over optics making it possible to implement more efficient and reliable disaggregation architectures.