Executive Tracks

Brought to you by Synopsys, Corporate Sponsor of the 2021 edition of DATE, the IEEE Design Automation and Test in Europe Conference

Photonics Introduction

The gap between memory and xPU bandwidth has been constant at 2-3X over the last two decades and, by now, there is a 1,000X gap between what is possible and what is required by applications such as AI. N5/N3, and Wafer Scale Integration (WSI) represent the extreme attempt to keep classical Moore’s Law afloat but, like fossil energy this attempt is not sustainable; there is not much room for improvement beyond 12” wafers and 3-nanometer CMOS. We are approaching an inflection point: an innovation tsunami is looming. Silicon photonics may leverage the existing semiconductor technology and its supply chain, to provide the foundation for Optical Computing, which is faster than Electronic Computing, more power savvy, but whose roadmap does not rely on nanometer manufacturing and does not suffer of its complexity. Most optical computing research aims at replacing electronic components with optical equivalents, building an optical digital computer processing binary data. While this approach appears to offer the best short-term commercial prospects for optical computing, since optical components could be integrated into traditional computers to produce an opto-electronic hybrid, these devices use 30% of their energy converting electronic energy into photons and back. More unconventional research aims at building all-optical computers that eliminate the need for optical-electrical-optical (OEO) conversions.

Twan Korthorst

Synopsys Photonic Solutions, NL

Director Photonic Solutions

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11.2.2 Programmable Photonic Circuits for Linear Processing"

Ghent University & IMEC, BE

Description: “Photonic circuits are an ideal platform for implementing complex interferometers, which perform linear transformations on coherent optical signals. Such linear transformations, which are computationally equivalent to matrix-vector multiplications or a multiply-accumulate operations, are at the core of many signal processing algorithms, neuromorphic computing paradigms, or quantum information processing. These photonic circuits can be made programmable, by electronically reconfiguring the weights and phases in the interferometer network, and this provides opportunities for massive acceleration of certain computational functions in the optical domain. We will discuss the current developments in such programmable photonics, and the technology stack needed to realize fully-functional accelerators or even general-purpose photonic processors.”

Wim Bogaerts

Professor in Silicon Photonics

11.2.3 Unlocking Transformative AI with Photonic Computing

LightOn, FR

Description: Recent large-scale AI models, such as OpenAi’s GPT-3 model for NLP, may trigger possibly even deeper economic and societal impact than Deep Learning had in the last decade. However, training such models requires massive amounts of computing resources, already challenging the capacity of some of the largest supercomputing architectures. In this talk I will present LightOn’s view on how future AI hardware should be designed, to address some of the hardest computing challenges, such as in language models, recommender systems, or big science. In particular, I will demonstrate how LightOn Optical Processing Units (OPUs) can be seamlessly integrated into a variety of hybrid photonics / silicon pipelines implementing state-of-the-art Machine Learning algorithms.

Laurent Daudet


11.2.4 No Bottlenecks Allowed

CogniFiber, IL

Description: “Like many photonic computing start-ups, CogniFiber strives to accelerate computing by using photons instead of electrons. But in the general HW markets, and AI HW in particular, the elephant in the room is still largely ignored. Embedding a light-speed chip in a system 1000-fold slower than it, might accelerate specific phases and result in 10x-fold system level acceleration, but such solutions do not fully utilize the advantages of photonic computing. In CogniFiber we took upon ourselves to invent, design and build a “No-Bottleneck” system where all computations from start to end are done by light. This quasi-all-optical AI system will reach 1000x system-level acceleration in our coming products. In the talk we will present the conceptual difference between CogniFiber and other photonics endeavors and update on our recent achievements.”

Eyal Cohen

Founder and CEO

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