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Advances in Large Scale Photonic Integration for Next Generation Optical Transmission Architectures

In 1975 the Cray 1, the world’s most powerful supercomputer at the time, was launched. It was the first of Seymour Cray’s designs to make use of electronic integrated circuits, despite the fact that these had been commercially available since the early 1960s. Earlier supercomputers had still been built using discrete transistors, resistors and other electronic components because discrete components offered higher performance levels. Optical transmission at data rates of 100Gbit/s and above is the optical equivalent of the supercomputer. Advanced, phase-based modulation, coherent detection, and high gain Forward Error Correction are all critical aspects of this technology. Most of the optical industry has resisted a move towards photonic integration, primarily caused by R&D funding limitations. But to make 100G and higher data rate systems practical, economic, and reliable, discrete implementations are no longer an option. It is essential to move towards high levels of both photonic and electronic integration.

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