Vector Photonics has won ZEUS, a £1 million, industrial research project to commercialise its 1 Watt, all-semiconductor, PCSELs for Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. The AI PCSEL will have the increase in computer processing power necessary to overcome the data transmission bottleneck faced by current AI solutions. At 1 Watt, the PCSEL’s optical power will be at least ten times that of incumbent DFB lasers, which currently operate at a maximum of 100mW. So, where current AI chips use multiple DFB lasers to achieve a single data transmission channel of suitable optical power, the Vector Photonics’ PCSEL is being developed to support up to an incredible, 20 data channels per chip.
Dr. Richard Taylor, CTO of Vector Photonics, said, “ZEUS is a 24-month project covering the design, simulation, manufacture, and test, of a 1 Watt, AI PCSEL. The full impact of a 1 Watt PCSEL on AI chip design is not yet quantified, as the entire architecture of the chips and systems will change, but it brings countless manufacturing and energy saving benefits. Power consumption, heat and latency are reduced; the PCSEL’s symmetrical far-field requires less operational power for equivalent performance, so a further power reduction can be expected here; and the vastly reduced laser count per chip makes manufacture simpler and the chip smaller, which will undoubtedly improve yield and reliability.”
PCSELs are increasingly looking like the only realistic enabler of next-generation AI data transmission, where DFBs are approaching their practical limit.
The Zeus project leverages Vector Photonics’ existing datacoms PCSEL commercialisation work and is a collaborative fund split between Innovate UK at £700k and the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund at £300k.