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Special EECS Seminar: Computer Chips that Communicate with Light: Building VLSI Chips with Integrated Silicon-Photonics

Seminar: Departmental | February 5 | 3:30-4:30 p.m. | Cory Hall, Hogan Room (521)


Vladimir Stojanovic, Associate Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS)


Chip design is radically changing. This period of change is a very exciting time in integrated circuit and system design. On one hand, cross-layer design approaches need to be invented to improve system performance despite CMOS scaling slowdown. On the other, a variety of emerging devices are lined-up to extend or potentially surpass the capabilities of CMOS technology, but require key innovations at the integration, circuits and system levels.

This talk describes how monolithic integration of photonic links can revolutionize the VLSI chip design, dramatically improving its performance and energy-efficiency. Limited scaling of both on-chip and off-chip interconnects, coupled with CMOS scaling slowdown have led to energy-efficiency and bandwidth density constraints that are emerging fast as the major performance bottlenecks in embedded and high-performance digital systems. While optical interconnects have shown promise in extensive architectural studies to date, significant challenges need to be overcome both in device and circuit design as well as the integration strategy.

We illustrate how our cross-layer approach guides the system design by connecting process, device and circuit optimizations to system-level metrics, exposing the inherent trade-offs and design sensitivities. Our experimental platforms demonstrate the technology potential at the system level and provide feedback to modeling and device design. In particular, we’ll describe the recent breakthroughs in monolithic photonic memory interface platform with fastest and most energy-efficient modulators demonstrated in a 45nm process node. Based on these design principles and technology demonstrations, we project that in the next decade tailored hybrid (electrical/optical) integrated systems will provide orders of magnitude performance improvements at the system level and revolutionize the way we build future VLSI systems.

Bio: Vladimir Stojanovic is the Emanuel E. Landsman Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. His research interests include design, modeling, and optimization of integrated systems, from CMOS-based VLSI blocks and interfaces to system design with emerging devices like NEM relays and silicon-photonics. He is also interested in design and implementation of energy-efficient electrical and optical networks, and digital communication techniques in high-speed interfaces and high-speed mixed-signal IC design.

Vladimir received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 2005, and the Dipl. Ing. degree from the University of Belgrade, Serbia in 1998. He was also with Rambus, Inc., Los Altos, CA, from 2001 through 2004. He received the 2006 IBM Faculty Partnership Award, and the 2009 NSF CAREER Award as well as the 2008 ICCAD William J. McCalla, 2008 IEEE Transactions on Advanced Packaging, and 2010 ISSCC Jack Raper best paper awards.


richter@eecs.berkeley.edu, 510-643-8208