In collaboration with the Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e), AcQ has created a high-performance FPGA board to support innovative photonics research.

The data throughput of server farms has been growing exponentially in recent years, as modern households increasingly use more bandwidth. With the continuing rise of streaming services (Youtube, Netflix, etc) in ever high quality (4K), this is trend is only expected to continue into the foreseeable future. This presents a problem on the server side: how to effectively manage all that bandwidth. The TU/e is developing new photonic transmitters and receivers to enable solutions to these current and future bandwidth problems.

To to support rapid prototyping of these novel high speed optical networking interfaces, AcQ developed a Xilinx Virtex® Ultrascale™ based FPGA board. This board has been designed to interface directly with the SERDES channels controlling the photonics, to provide massively parallel data to these devices. Over 32 SERDES channels, each at 10Gbps provide the bandwidth needed to develop and validate new photonic interface technologies.

Aside from the SERDES channels for the optical networking interfaces, the board also features 8GB of DDR4 memory (in a SODIMM slot), on-board monitoring and a PCI Express Gen 3 x4 interface for use in a common PC system. The huge amount of SERDES interfaces available on the board made the board a significant challenge in terms of signal and power integrity.