Aquantia & GlobalFoundries team to take copper interconnect to 100G

October 24, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
For many years, the bandwidth limits of copper interconnect have been repeatedly forecast, and those forecasts have repeatedly been confounded. Now, high-speed-signalling fabless semiconductor company Aquantia (San Jose, California), in collaboration with chipmaker Global Foundries, has announced it has pushed that limit to 100 Gbit/sec, and anticipates applications in “hyperscale” data centres, for storage and for provision of cloud computing resources.

The increased throughput will, of itself, help to reduce costs; and enabling it without conversion to all-optical interconnect will extend that benefit. The announcement is, specifically, that technology Aquantia’s calls QuantumStream can delivers the first single-lane, 100 Gbit/sec solution by building on GlobalFoundries' 56 Gbit/s SerDes. QuantumStream, Aquantia says, applies “architectural innovations” in interconnect technology and delivers low latency performance for next-generation hyperscale architectures. QuantumStream technology is aimed at inter- and intra-rack connectivity up to a few metres; beynd that, longer-reach optical connectivity solutions will continue to be used in hyperscale data centres. System vendors and data centre operators will be assisted in their, “push towards higher performance and newer topologies in hyperscale architectures”.


The target of the collaboration is to enable 400 Gbit/sec Ethernet Direct-Attach Cable connections, and the two companies' relationship includes licensing of Aquantia’s QuantumStream IP to GlobalFoundries, expanding the ecosystem of products, thus continuing the cloud computing revolution.


GlobalFoundries – the joint statement continues – has over 20 years' experience in high-speed serializer-deserializer (SerDes) design; its FX-14 ASIC platform, designed on its 14nm Power Plus (LPP) process technology, includes the latest generation of SerDes, which is capable of transporting data at speeds of up to 56 Gbit/sec. Under the agreement, Aquantia gains access to GlobalFoundries' 56 Gbit/sec IP core, and applies its own mixed-mode signal processing and multi-core signal processing approach to high-speed interconnect over copper, which it has developed over the past decade to deliver a 100G interconnect high-performance SerDes. In addition, Aquantia provides access to its QuantumStream technology to GlobalFoundries for incorporation into the latter's customers’ ASICs.


Aquantia adds that its QuantumStream technology can be the basis of 400 Gbit/sec of bandwidth on conventional DAC cables. Third-party research indicates that a large proportion of interconnect paths in a “hyperscale” data centre will be short, within a few metres; a majority, under 3m.