Frequency-Stabilized Links for Coherent WDM Fiber Interconnects in the Datacenter

Daniel J. Blumenthal, Hitesh Ballani, Ryan O. Behunin, John E. Bowers, Paolo Costa, Daniel Lenoski, Paul A. Morton, Scott B. Papp, Peter T. Rakich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The continued growth in Hyperscale data center (HDC) deployment is expected to drive world-wide Internet traffic to an astounding 21 zettabytes by 2021. This growth will place increased demands on data center interconnects (DCIs) and drive the capacity of the underlying electronic application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) switch chips that route DCI ethernet traffic, from 12.8 Tbps per chip today to 100 Tbps and beyond in the future. This astounding growth will push the limits of today's incoherent fiber link technologies that connect switches, including power dissipation, density, and practical engineering solutions. To overcome these limits, high capacity coherent WDM, traditionally relegated to the metro and long-haul networks, will need to move into the DCI. However, migrating coherent WDM into the DCI, particularly for link distances less than 2 km, will require elimination of power consuming and costly technologies like the digital signal processor (DSP). Additionally, new photonic integration technologies will be needed to co-locate the coherent optical interfaces directly with switch ASICs to alleviate the bandwidth, power, and density limits. In this article, we introduce a new approach to DSP-free coherent WDM for the DCI called FRESCO: FREquency Stabilized Coherent Optical Links for Low Energy DCIs. FRESCO utilizes spectrally pure, ultra-stable light source technology, normally associated with high-end scientific applications like atomic clocks, to enable high capacity high-order WDM QAM with low bandwidth, low power electronics normally associated with RF links. Terabits per second FRESCO links based on shared, stabilized sources and high-density coherent WDM silicon photonic coherent transceivers that are co-located with the switch ASIC will pave the way to a DSP-free coherent WDM scalable DCI solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9057434
Pages (from-to)3376-3386
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Lightwave Technology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Frequency locked loops
  • laser noise
  • noise cancellation
  • optical fiber communication
  • optical interconnections
  • optical modulation
  • phase locked loops
  • phase noise
  • photonic integrated circuits
  • silicon photonics
  • wavelength division multiplexing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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