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Nubis and Alphawave Semi demonstrate PCIe 6.0 optical link

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The companies demonstrated their technology at DesignCon 2024, combining an Alphawave Semi PCIe Subsystem with PiCORE Controller IP and PipeCORE PHY with a Nubis XT1600 linear optical engine

Nubis Communications, a provider of low-latency high-density optical interconnects, and Alphawave Semi, a company focused on high-speed connectivity and compute silicon for technology infrastructure, have demonstrated a PCI Express 6.0 technology driving over an optical link at 64 GT/s per lane. Datacentre providers are exploring the use of PCIe over optics to greatly expand the reach and flexibility of the interconnect for memory, CPUs, GPUs, and custom silicon accelerators to enable more scalable and energy-efficient clusters for artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) architectures.

In a live demonstration in the Tektronix booth at DesignCon, the companies showed an Alphawave Semi PCIe Subsystem with PiCORE Controller IP and PipeCORE PHY directly driving and receiving PCIe 6.0 traffic through a Nubis XT1600 linear optical engine to demonstrate a PCIe 6.0 optical link at 64GT/s per fibre, with optical output waveform measured on a Tektronix sampling scope with a high-speed optical probe.

Optical transmission technology can be leveraged to extend link distances at the same bandwidths compared with copper cables, supporting the larger cluster sizes needed to support ever-larger AI/ML servers distributed over multiple nodes, and enabling innovation in new disaggregated network architectures. Nubis says that its XT1600 optical engine supports up to 16 lanes of high-density PCIe Gen 6.0 or 100 Gbps per lane ethernet optical connectivity without incorporating retimers.

“Our high level of integration with 16 lanes full-duplex in a single low-power, low-latency optical engine is a great match to the maximum bandwidth of PCIe x16 for next-generation compute and storage deployments,” said Scott Schube, vice president of marketing at Nubis Communications. “Our demonstration of the Nubis XT1600 linear optical engine and Alphawave Semi’s PCIe 6.0 Controller and PHY IP showcases the viability of a PCIe 6.0 x8 link over optical fibre at 64 GT/s.”

Tony Chan Carusone, CTO at Alphawave Semi, commented: “AI applications are reshaping datacentre networks, with hyperscalers deploying increasingly large clusters of disaggregated servers distributed over longer distances. This shift has generated heightened interest in PCIe over optics among several of our customers. Through our collaboration with Nubis, we’re pleased to demonstrate how we’re leveraging Alphawave Semi’s leadership in connectivity IP and silicon to enable PCIe optical connectivity solutions that accelerate high-performance AI computing and data infrastructure.”

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