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VITA Architectures for Optical Study Group

VITA members recognize the need for higher density, higher performing interconnect technologies to meet the speeds of 10 gigabit serial channels and higher that will be used in next generation critical embedded systems. As the transfer rates continue to increase, it is clear that optical technology offers many advantages. Since optical interconnects work best as a point-to-point connection, future systems are going to need much higher density supporting hundreds of connections in a single board or line-replaceable unit (LRU).

Achieving the projected level of combined performance and connector density is no easy challenge. The lead-time to develop technologies and supporting specifications is very long. To that end, VITA is launching a study group now to research potential technologies and propose an architecture that could become part of future solutions.


The mission of the VITA Architectures for Optical Study Group is to research and determine the feasibility of developing a standard architecture for optical interconnects suitable for deployment in critical embedded systems. The study group will focus on high-density options for backplanes and connections between line-replaceable units, mezzanines, and daughter cards. Critical embedded systems are high-performance, distributed computing systems, and they manage high bandwidth I/O; involve real-time processing; and are environmentally constrained in size, weight, and power (SWaP).

The study group will explore the needs and ascertains the interest in developing a standard. The study group can move to working group status by meeting defined working group formation criteria as defined by the VITA Standards Organization.

Existing standards and those under development by Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs), and appropriate industry alliances, community collaboration efforts, and other groups will be used whenever practical. The Study Group will proactively reach out to such groups to facilitate their early involvement.

Individuals and companies that are interested in participating should contact The VITA executive director, Subject: VITA Architectures for Optical Study Group.

New material will be posted here as discovered by the Study Group.

White papers and Reports

IGI Group, a Boston-based market research and publishing firm on the fiber optics markets, has several relevant reports.

IGI Group: Active Optical Cables Market Report 2011

IGI Group: Light Peak Special Report from the Field

IGI Group: Military & Aerospace Fiber Optics Market Report Series

NEW-HIP Program Advances Avionics Networks, DARPA, January 2011

Pluggable Optical Backplane Technology, Xyratex, 2007

Waveguide and packaging technology for optical backplanes and hybrid electrical-optical circuit boards

Terabit Capacity Passive Polymer Optical Backplane

10 Gbit/s Data Transmission Experiments over Optical Backplane Waveguides with 850 nm Wavelength Multimode VCSELs

Reconfigurable intelligent optical backplane for parallel computing and communications (requires registering)

Optical Backplanes, Board and Chip Interconnects (requires purchase)

Optical Backplane Technology for a Large Sonnet Multi-Service Switch

Reconfigurable computing with optical backplanes an economic argument for optical interconnects (requires purchase)

Single mode polymer waveguide for optical backplanes

Fully Optical Backplane System Using Polymeric Waveguides

Integration technologies for pluggable backplane optical interconnect systems

Polymer-Based Optical Waveguides: Materials, Processing, and Devices, Advanced materials, Hong Ma, K.-Y. Jen, and Larry R. Dalton, October 2, 2002

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NEMI Cost Analysis: Optical Versus Copper Backplanes, Part I: Benchmarking Copper

Optical PCB Overview, IBM Research, November 2009

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Articles and Webcasts

Backplane Architectures Proliferate
Connector+Cable Assembly Supplier, Bob Holt, July 14, 2015

New, more effective optical fibers have semiconductive core
Gizmag, Ben Coxworth, March 1, 2011

IBM Claims Breakthrough in Laser-Based Chips
The Wall Street Journal, Don Clark, December 1, 2010

Intel: Light Peak switches on in 2012
EETimes, Rick Merritt, September 16, 2010

Get on the Optical Bus
IEEE Spectrum, Clint Schow, Fuad Doany, Jeffrey Kash, September, 2010

Intel’s Optical Breakthrough Downloads an HD Film in a Second …
Fine HD , Sam Biddle, July 28, 2010

Intel Turns to Light to Transfer Data Inside PCs
PC World, Agam Shah, July 27, 2010

Light without logic, Optical devices are finally going inside computers, but only in parts
The Economist, May 13, 2010

Air Force researchers to speed optical interconnect development for chips, boards, and systems
Military & Aerospace, John Keller, March 11, 2010

Complex modulation comes to optical fiber
Test & Measurement World, Martin Rowe, March 1, 2010

Oclaro supplying VCSELs for Intel's Light Peak optical connectivity platform
OptoIQ, Gail Overton, October 27, 2009

Tech Talk: Silicon Photonics - A primer on the pros and cons of using light for
inter-chip communication
, part 1. Semiconductor Engineering, May 21, 2014

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US Patent 7587115 - Integrated functionality in optical backplane: A functional optical device for use in an optical backplane system is provided that includes one or more input fibers, one or more output fibers, and a functional portion configured to operate on an optical input received via the one or more input fibers to provide an optical output via the one or more output fibers. The one or more input fibers and the one or more output fibers of the functional optical device are terminated in a fixed configuration based on a fixed termination layout of at least one group of multiple fibers of an optical backplane interconnect.

US Patent 5937133 - Optical backplanes: It is an object of this invention to provide an optical backplane for the routing and protection of optical fibres and to also provide a method of producing such an optical backplane.

WO/1994/018587 - Optical backplanes: The present invention relates to the implementation of optical backplanes using mass produced optical components and subsystems such as holograms and CD-type laser diodes.

US Patent 6970649 - WDMA free space broadcast technique for optical backplanes and interplanar communications.

Patent application title: An optical connector, a communication system and a method of connecting a user circuit to an optical transceiver.

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Datasheets and Technical Notes

FlexPlane™ Optical Circuitry, by Molex

Avago Fiber Optics: Breaking Bandwidth and Performance Barriers in Supercomputing

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