The rising role of photonics in today's data centres

Davidson, A. and Glesk, I. and Buis, A. (2016) The rising role of photonics in today's data centres. Cuban Journal of Physics (Revista Cubana de Física), 33 (1E). E17-E25. ISSN 2224-7939

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In recent years there has been a rapid growth in demand for ultra high speed data transmission with end users expecting fast, high bandwidth network access. This growth has put data centres under increasing pressure to provide greater data throughput and ever increasing data rates while at the same time improving the quality of data handling in terms of reduced latency, increased scalability and improved channel speed for users. However, data networks are becoming increasingly difficult to scale to meet this growing demand using current well established CMOS technology and architectures. As a result electronic bottlenecks are becoming apparent despite improvements in data management. The inter-related issues of electronic scalability, power consumption, copper interconnect bandwidth and the limited speed of CMOS electronics will be discussed; and the tremendous potential of optical fibre based networks to provide the necessary bandwidth will be illustrated. In addition, some applications of photonics to alleviate speed, throughput and latency issues in data networks will be discussed. Finally, progress in the form of a novel and highly scalable optical interconnect will be reviewed.