Optical Interconnects & Data Center Efficiency Workshop

ARPA-E held a workshop on Optical Interconnects & Data Center Efficiency on July 27-28, 2015 in Burlingame, CA. This workshop convened leading experts in data centers, high performance computing, optical interconnects, data center efficiency, power systems and other relevant areas to identify innovative research paths forward for the development of disruptive technologies that can significantly reduce the electricity consumption of data centers and improve data center efficiency.  

In 2013, U.S. data centers consumed an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or about 1.9% of the total U.S. electricity consumption. The data center consumption is projected to grow to about 3% of the total U.S. electricity consumption by 2020.

Areas of interest and primary objectives of the workshop included:

  • Identification of key technical areas for ARPA-E investment to reduce current and projected data center energy use
  • Establishing research program concepts and critical milestones that will help formulate a future ARPAE-E investment

    Day 1

    Welcome and Introduction

    Dr. Eric Rohlfing, ARPA-E

    Dr. Mike Haney, ARPA-E

    Overview of Data Center Energy Challenges

    1:00-1:45 pm

    Yuval Bachar, Facebook

    1:45-2:30 pm

    John Shalf, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory       


    3:30-3:40 pm    

    Introduction to Breakout Session #1 – Dr. Mike Haney   

    3:30-5:00 pm

    Breakout Session 1: Define and prioritize challenges,

    goals and impacts        

    5:00-5:30 pm

    Breakout Session Results

    Day 2

    Enabling approaches and technologies from optics and photonics

    8:15 - 8:45 am


    Keren Bergman, Columbia University

    8:45 – 9:15 am

    Greg Fish, Aurrion

    9:15 – 9:45 am

    Peter De Dobbelaere, Luxtera

    9:45 – 10:15 am

    Devanand Shenoy, Department of Energy


    10:30 – 10:40 am

    Introduction to Breakout Session #2 – Dr. Mike Haney

    10:40 – 12:30 pm

    Breakout session 2a: Define challenges for photonics


    12:30 – 1:30 pm

    Working Lunch (Read out from Session 2a)

    1:30 – 3:30 pm

    Breakout session 2b: Define paths and metrics

    4:00 – 5:30 pm 

    Breakout session reports and open discussion

    5:30 – 6:30 pm