Specifically designed for data center routing, Rockley Photonics’ single-chip L3 routing switch is the world’s first ASIC to directly integrate 100G network ports using single-mode fiber, supporting a 100X improvement in interconnect reach.

Leveraging Rockley OpticsDirect technology, the platform is among the first of its kind to integrate high-speed optical interconnect with high-scale CMOS digital and mixed-signal circuits. The switching ASIC employs unique low-power custom circuitry to interface to Rockley-developed photonic chips. Advanced technology for fiber-optic assembly delivers significantly lower power than conventional ASICs that use electrical IO and external optical transceiver modules. By driving optical fiber directly from the package, the Rockley product can directly connect to devices placed 500 meters away, offering a 100x improvement over today’s ASICs using all-electrical IO, claims the manufacturer.

Opening up the package.

The product employs an L3 routing ASIC designed by Rockley Photonics and silicon photonics chips manufactured on a Rockley proprietary process. The switch ASIC and silicon photonics ICs are placed into a customized package enabling fiber-optic links to connect directly into the assembly. Innovative mixed-signal circuit designs enable the photonics ICs to be driven directly by the ASIC without additional chips.

The Rockley solution was developed in cooperation with major industry partners to be suitable for rapid transition to manufacturing scale. The ASIC was manufactured in TSMC 28nm process technology. The package substrate manufacture, chip assembly and test was performed by IBM. The silicon photonics ICs were manufactured by established third-party fabrication houses using Rockley Photonics’ advanced process. The final assembly was performed by Fabrinet.


“The Rockley Photonics OpticsDirect System represents a culmination of multiple years of development effort by the entire Rockley team as well as our ecosystem partners,” said Dr. Andrew Rickman, founder and CEO of Rockley Photonics.

“We are pleased and excited to deliver this important new platform which will usher in the modern era of integrated optics.”

The Rockley Photonics demonstration involves multiple ports of 100G directly connected using single mode fiber with 25G optical modulation. The integrated Rockley single-chip switch provides Ethernet MAC capability, plus packet processing, packet buffering, and L3 routing between ports. The Rockley switch reference platform exhibits very low power consumption, with significant power savings enabled by the direct fiber-optic interconnect. This approach significantly reduces data center CapEX, OpEX and TCO.

“By eliminating all electrical interconnect and driving the optics directly from the ASIC, Rockley has achieved unprecedented low power levels,” said Amit Nagra, Chief Operating Officer at Rockley Photonics. “In fact, we estimate the switch, with optics, consumes less power per 100G port than a typical optical transceiver.”

Although the demonstration leverages a Rockley-designed ASIC, the OpticsDirect platform can enable any customer ASIC platform to become ‘optics enabled’. Rockley Photonics plans to partner with third-party developers of digital ASICs to develop all-optical product designs, combining Rockley Photonics technology with world-leading digital ASIC architectures.

Rockley Photonics – www.rockleyphotonics.com