PICs cannot do without “normal” or Electronic ICs to form a complete solution serving an application. In an optical pluggable transceiver, one needs the circuitry to drive the modulator and amplify the signals from the photodetector, and additional digital electronics signal processing is often required. Silicon photonics fabrication processes can vary from one foundry to another and include electrical devices. If that is the case we speak about monolithic silicon photonics, allowing designers to design both electrical and optical functions in one and the same chip, instead of designing two (or more) chips that need to be combined in a package. As always with product development, decision making about what technology to select for a particular application comes with cost, performance, time to market considerations and partnering early with a potential foundry and packaging provider will help making the right trade-off analysis.
SiPh is increasingly used in optical datacom, sensing, biomedical, automotive, astronomy, aerospace, AR/VR and AI applications. An example of an automotive application is integrated LiDAR chips for autonomous vehicles.
Synopsys supports the industry by providing a unique and complete end-to-end design solution for silicon photonics, covering electronics and photonics. Synopsys is working closely with all major foundries to support the development of silicon photonics manufacturing, PDKs and tool enablement.