Silicon Photonics: Back to the future – Part two? | SemiWiki source

I cut my teeth in silicon IC design at Texas Instruments during the early 1980’s working on what would eventually become the ASIC and Fabless IC industries that enabled the explosive growth of the electronics industry over the last three decades. Of late I’ve become involved in the silicon photonics space and I am getting an incredible sense of Deja vu. I’ve seen this movie before.

Analytics Exposed 2012-lumerical-jpg Silicon photonic design is at the same stage IC design was in the late 1970s. Most photonic IC (PIC) work is still taking place in labs with the few production parts coming from well-funded IDMs like Intel, IBM, ST Micro etc. The focus is mostly at the technology level figuring out how to make better devices. Design is still being done bottom up, not top down (e.g. layout a device, run TCAD simulations, fab some parts and see what happens). The question is how long will be it before silicon photonics really takes off and will it ever be as pervasive as electronics are today.

The good news for nascent technologies such as silicon photonics is that we are at a different starting point now then we were 30 years ago. IC Design methodologies have been codified and we have well understood business models and a mature ecosystem of specialized suppliers for CAD, fabrication, packaging and test. Yet, this very infrastructure could be the thing that holds silicon photonics back.

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Source: SemiWiki