Optical Communication System

Default ARPA-E Project Image

San Francisco, California
Project Term:
08/04/2017 - 02/03/2020

Technology Description:

Ayar Labs will develop new intra-rack configurations using silicon-based photonic (optical) transceivers, optical devices that transmit and receive information. The team will additionally develop methods to package their photonic transceiver with an electronic processor chip. Marrying these two components will reduce the size and cost of the chip system. Integrated packaging also moves the photonics closer to the chip, which increases energy efficiency by reducing the amount of "hops" between components. If successful, the project will prove that chip packages incorporating both optics and processors, or optics and switches, are possible. This will finally allow optics to penetrate deep into an electrical system and relieve chip interconnect bottlenecks, enabling system architecture improvements to achieve nearly double the energy efficiency with a structure more optimized for future data-use cases such as "big data" analytics and machine learning.

Potential Impact:

If successful, developments from ENLITENED projects will result in an overall doubling in datacenter energy efficiency in the next decade through deployment of new photonic network topologies.


The United States is home to much of the world’s datacenter infrastructure. Photonic networks add resilience that can bolster the energy security of this critical driver of economic activity.


Reducing the overall energy consumption of datacenters cuts energy-related emissions per bit of data processed or stored.


Photonic networks can lower the costs associated with operating datacenters, improving American economic competitiveness in this fast-developing area.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. James Zahler
Project Contact:
Roy Meade
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

Related Projects

Release Date: