Optical FPGA: the Next Generation FPGA

altera stratix iii

Instead of using copper wires, Optical FPGA rely on fiber optics. What’s the main advantage? There’s a tremendous increase in link distance, performance and bandwidth capability, enabling high-speed communication between products.

Back in 2012, Altera Inc. partnered with Avago Technologies to introduce the Optical FPGA. Instead of copper wires, the chip-level circuitry included a laser and photon detector. Altera’s Optical FPGA was demonstrated on an Altera Stratix IV FPGA 100G development kit and an Avago Technologies’ 12 channel MicroPOD optical module.

The Optical FPGA was specially developed to meet the demands of an industry hungry for increasing bandwidth limits. The Optical FPGA can handle data rates that approach 100 Gbps and more. The target market includes devices within the Internet of Things (IoT) or devices with high-bandwidth and low-latency requirements. End-uses include smart TVs, smart phones, and tablets.

As the technology around Optical FPGA develop, they can be tailored to meet end uses in specific industries, including the telecom industry, medical, broadcasting, test and development, data center, data transporting, and in military applications.

Intel has continued with Altera’s research, testing out silicon photonics in its applications. Silicon photonics can replace copper wires and and interface with optical fibers. At the moment, photonic technology will only be used at the interface level to transport information. In applications that rely on fast data transfer, a solution that relies on photonics is ideal. Data transfers at the speed of light. The only problem is converting from an electrical to an optical medium and back to an electrical medium again. There’s some energy loss, but if the entire data transport system relies on optics then this will no longer be an issue.

Luxe Electronics is based in Amesbury, MA and is a distributor of electronic components. Luxe deals with all things FPGA. We are always on the lookout for new RFQs and excess opportunities.

For a RFQ, click here.

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Sources used:

Altera Publications

Altera Press release



One thought on “Optical FPGA: the Next Generation FPGA

  1. Physical structure of silicon doesn’t let quants emission with the energy range, which silicon is sensitive. Some other materials of A3B5 group should be used, but these materials can not be integrated into silicon chip due to high chemical doping.
    Let’s see cost effective the technological solution or it’s just a talk.


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