Silicon photonics design and verification joining the mainstream

By Design With Calibre

By John Ferguson – Mentor, A Siemens Business

Silicon photonics offers up the promise of blazing fast data transmission and high bandwidth, with low power consumption, so why hasn’t it taken over the market yet?

Silicon photonics devices offer a host of benefits compared to similar transistor-based devices—blazingly fast transmission speeds, high bandwidth, networking, and low power consumption. Everyone from medical device manufacturers to telecommunications providers to aeronautics and automotive designers are researching silicon photonics technology. So why hasn’t silicon photonics taken over the world yet?

The answer, in large part, is inertia. The entire electronics industry was built on and around transistor-based technologies. All of the tools, techniques, design and verification flows, and manufacturing processes, not to mention experience and expertise, are based on transistors. Replicating the massive infrastructure created to support transistor-based technology to work for photonics is a colossal undertaking.

Design rules, device models, pre-characterized cells, libraries, intellectual property, tech files…all these and more are needed as the basis for the process design kits and qualified EDA tools required to standardize and automate photonics design and verification flows, and enable successful and profitable manufacturing. The good news is that companies from all facets of the electronics industry, from foundries to design companies to EDA suppliers, and OSATS, are collaborating, with commitments to reach the ultimate goal of attaining the inexpensive and scalable platform needed to move silicon photonics to a true production design offering.

Want more detail? Check out Realizing the promise of silicon photonics, and learn how Mentor, a Siemens Business and our partners are leading the way.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at