Extreme design: Controller board optical switch, 36 layers, 2.5 Terabits/sec, 1.6 mi trace length
Endicott, NY — Endicott Interconnect Technologies Inc. (EI) introduced
a controller board that functions as the intelligence of a powerful, advanced optical packet switch
. The controller board for a 64×64 port, high-performance optical switch designed by
IBM Zurich Research Lab
, claimed to be one of the most complex designs ever developed, is a core component in the OSMOSIS (Optical Shared MemOry Supercomputer Interconnect System) research project on next-generation optical switch technology in high-performance computing systems.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy , in cooperation with Corning Inc ., IBM scientists developed a method of using optical switch elements to transfer packet data throughout the system using light. The switch can transmit 2.5 Terabits of data, equivalent to 20 high definition movies, per second. IBM researchers implemented the complex architecture for a 64-port optical switch technology demonstrator to achieve line rates of 40 Gb/s. The board was fabricated as two sub-composites with deep blind vias that, when joined, went half way through the full thickness. Depth control for the pin connections was provided by developing a process that filled the vias to preserve the holes during lamination and mechanically drilled the holes afterward.
“The board construction consisted of 36 layers, 36,053 blind vias, 29,246 connections, a total trace length of 1.6 miles, and required multiple passes through the plating and drilling processes, highlighting the criticality of registration,” said James Fuller, EI’s vice president of Semiconductor Packaging and Printed Circuit Board Fabrication. “The biggest hurdle was accommodating 40 back-to-back, two-sided, compliant pin connections.”
According to James McNamara, EI president and CEO, “This opportunity has been among the most challenging board applications EI has undertaken since its inception. The engineering expertise and manufacturing execution required to satisfactorily build this board is rare in the industry. Collaboration between our engineering, manufacturing and R&D teams was invaluable in solving an exceedingly complex fabrication puzzle and consequently delivering a leading-edge, high-performance solution.”
The board design won a 19th Annual PCB Technology Leadership Award, a competition that attracted printed circuit board designers from around the world, in the Telecommunications Switches, Network Servers, Base Stations, and Computer Mainframes category.