SAN MATEO, Calif. Nurlogic Design Inc., a maker of mixed-signal semiconductor cores, moves into the standard chip business this week with plans to sell devices for high-end routers.
Nurlogic's first ICs will be optical transceivers also called PMDs, for the physical-media-dependent sublayer of the physical layer consisting of a laser driver and amplifier integrated onto a single device. The San Diego-based company is targeting optical module manufacturers who would integrate the PMDs with vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs).
Those modules will be offered to router OEMs for use as optical backplanes or for such specialized applications as the very short reach (VSR) for router-to-router connections.
The systems have parallel optical channels, each running at 3.125- to 10-Gbit/second speeds, creating a need for array-based transceivers with very high aggregate bandwidth.
The PMDs are effectively backplane drivers for short-range connections, such as rack-to-rack and board-to-board interconnects. With each channel running at speeds of 2.5 Gbits/s or greater, they require high aggregate bandwidth, as much as 10 Gbits/s, said David Matty, chief executive of Nurlogic.
The company has received early silicon on its first product, a 12-channel parallel optical transceiver, and plans to announce its first customer within the next few weeks, Matty said.
The mixed-signal expertise required in designing these parts makes them a good target for Nurlogic, the executive said. But in this case, Nurlogic is veering from its intellectual-property business because of the nature of parallel optical connections required in high-end systems.
"There are six or 12 companies involved in parallel optics, and they all have different requirements. So it's more of an IC play," although Nurlogic will consider producing PMD cores as the number of module makers increases, he said.
The company also claims to have put its d esign skills to work by integrating 100 channels of 2.5-Gbit/s traffic into a single device, although Matty refused to give any details about how that was accomplished.
Nurlogic's first products will be produced in silicon germanium, targeting 2.5 Gbits/s per channel, with 10-Gbit/s channels to come later. Some companies, including Infineon Technologies AG and Broadcom Corp., claim they can get 10 Gbits/s out of CMOS, but only SiGe can handle PMDs as dense as the 100-channel device, Matty said.
"High-speed CMOS would actually take a larger area," Matty said. "Nobody's been able to allocate this many channels with pure CMOS."
Nurlogic will supply both the IP for fabless semiconductor makers in this market and finished devices for optical network suppliers. "It is not enough to offer expertise," said Matty. "We need to provide the test silicon." The company's mixed-signal heritage stems from Brooktree Corp. (now part of Conexant), where many of its principals honed their skills.
The emerging market for PMDs is expected to grow to $400 million by 2004, said Lisa Liscomb, Nurlogic's director of marketing, basing her remarks on data gathered by ElectroniCast Corp.