PCIe 6.0 over optical cables demonstrated in custom data center solution

Nubis and Alphawave demo PCIe 6.0 x16 link without retimers.

Nubis Communications and Alphawave Semi have teamed up to showcase a PCIe 6.0 interconnection using an optical link. The demonstration used Alphawave’s PCIe 6.0 controller and a Nubis linear optical engine, primarily meant to showcase ability of the companies to enable next-generation data center connectivity at 64 GT/s.

The demonstration features an Alphawave Semi PCIe subsystem based on the PiCORE Controller IP and PipeCORE PHY that drives and receives PCIe 6.0 traffic through a Nubis XT1600 linear optical engine. This setup achieves PCIe 6.0 x8 optical link at 64 GT/s per fiber, without retimers. The demonstration showcases the technical viability and high-speed capabilities of this custom PCIe over Optics solution.

“Our high level of integration with 16 lanes full-duplex in a single low-power, low-latency optical engine is a great match to the maximum bandwidth of PCIe x16 for next-generation compute and storage deployments,” said Scott Schube, VP of Marketing at Nubis Communications. “Our demonstration of the Nubis XT1600 linear optical engine and Alphawave Semi’s PCIe 6.0 Controller and PHY IP showcases the viability of a PCIe 6.0 x8 link over optical fiber at 64 GT/s.”

Optical PCIe technology can significantly extend link distances without sacrificing bandwidth, compared to traditional copper cables. This capability is crucial for supporting larger AI/ML server clusters, distributed over multiple nodes, and paves the way for innovation in new disaggregated network architectures.  

Sampling for the Nubis XT1600 linear optical engine has started and interested parties can contact the company. Meanwhile, it should be noted that the solution by Nubis and Alphawave is a custom solution that has nothing to do with PCI-SIG’s optical PCIe initiative.

“AI applications are reshaping data center networks, with hyperscalers deploying increasingly large clusters of disaggregated servers distributed over longer distances,” said Tony Chan Carusone, CTO at Alphawave Semi. “This shift has generated heightened interest in PCIe over Optics among several of our customers. Through our collaboration with Nubis, we’re pleased to demonstrate how we’re leveraging Alphawave Semi’s leadership in connectivity IP and silicon to enable PCIe optical connectivity solutions that accelerate high-performance AI computing and data infrastructure.”