Silicon photonics technology has emerged as a promising solution to realize high performance computing (HPC) systems required for the Big Data era. Having various applications, including HPC, data centers, sensors and bio-sensing, aerospace, etc., it has attracted researchers and industries in different fields to explore different benefits and challenges of this technology. As an emerging area, it demands multidisciplinary collaborations and contributions, from material engineering to realize low-loss CMOS compatible components to software design tools to explore the design space of the resulting complex devices and systems.

North American Workshop on Silicon Photonics for High Performance Computing (SPHPC) is bringing together experts in Silicon Photonics and in High Performance Computing (HPC architects, interconnect architects, HPC systems modeling) to discuss the needs for Silicon Photonics based HPC interconnects, and the main challenges that must be addressed to accelerate their development. It is comprised of invited talks of the highest caliber from both academia and industry as well as from different disciplines. This is the event for meeting professionals in the field as well as exchanging and exploring new ideas.

In general, we expect to address and discuss the following questions at SPHPC:

  • Are 200G or 400G links and switches absolutely required in the next years? Or can double- or quad-rail 100G be satisfying solutions?
  • Is the lack of interconnect bandwidth really an obstacle for HPC system scaling?
  • Are parallel programmers bracing for bandwidth scarce environments (as they are preparing for the end of Moore’s Law)? Or are they betting on progresses in photonics?
  • Is low $/Gb/s the only goal or are there other metrics to optimize for, e.g. bandwidth density, energy efficiency?
  • Are HPC system architects well aware of the true potential, and true limitations, of silicon photonics?
  • Do silicon photonics experts understand well what is and isn’t required for HPC interconnects?
  • Is interconnect power consumption an important issue? Or is it dominated by the cost issue anyway?
  • When will silicon photonics beat (in overall value for money) copper based back-plane links?
  • Can silicon photonics ever beat copper for short-distance links, e.g. to memory?
  • Can silicon photonics do better than VCSELs based links?
  • How important is bandwidth density (in Gb/s per silicon area) in the context of integrated photonics?
  • Can ring resonators really replace Mach-Zehnders or EAM for modulation in practice, even in challenging thermal environments?
  • Is it possible to obtain high bandwidth density with Mach-Zehnders or EAM?
  • Can coherent systems meet ultra-low cost requirements? Are there a viable option for high energy efficiency, low cost links?
  • Are EPDA tools ready for prime-time?
  • Isn’t the bottleneck in the link between the ASIC and the transceiver after all?
  • How can electrical drivers challenges (SERDES, TIA, coding) better be taken into account in the link design?
  • How can one expose more the photonic community to electrical drivers challenges?
  • Is silicon photonic fundamentally capable of beating  copper for short distances? Or will EO/OE conversion overheads always be a liability?
  • Is there a realistic solution for low-cost packaging and assembly of ASICs with integrated photonics?
  • Is it a must to have the laser co-integrated? Or can we leave with external supply? Or is it the best solution after all (e.g. given thermal challenges)?
  • If silicon photonic links eventually beat copper in both cost and power terms for few cm links, will it enable a computer architecture revolution?
  • Is there really room for optical switching in HPC? How can optics beat electrical packet switches showing only tens of nanosecond of latency?
  • In general, what are the hottest issues and challenges? Which ones must be addressed in priority?

News and Updates

We are excited and delighted to welcome the following colleagues at SPHPC:

S. J. Ben Yoo, UC Davis, USA
Jean-Francois Carpentier, STMicroelectronics, France 
John Ferguson, Mentor Graphics (Siemens), USA 
Madeleine Glick, Columbia University, USA
Ian Karlin, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., USA
John Kim, KAIST, Korea 
Tin Komljenovic, UCSB, USA
Nic McDonald, HPE Labs, USA 
Alan Mickelson, CU Boulder, USA 
Ankit More, Intel, USA
Takahiro Nakamura, PETRA, Japan 
Samuel Palermo, Texas A&M, USA 
David Z. Pan, UT Austin, USA
Clint Schow, UCSB, USA 
Wei Shi, University of Laval, Canada 
Vladimir Stojanovic, UC Berkley, USA 
Pavel Studenkov, Infinera, USA
Armin Tajalli, University of UTAH, USA 
Michael Tan, HPE Labs, USA 
Jelena Vuckovic, Stanford, USA  
Jeremiah Wilke, Sandia Labs, USA 
Chris Wilson, HPE Labs., USA 
Alex Wright-Gladstein, Ayar Labs, USA 
Chi Xiong, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, USA 
Aaron Zilkie, Rockley Photonics, USA

Free Registration for Graduate Students

SPHPC offers a number of free registrations to graduate students working in the area of silicon photonics and high performance computing. Graduate students should submit a one page summary including: 1) short summary of their Ph.D. thesis project; and 2) a paragraph describing how attending SPHPC would improve and help their thesis project.

Please submit the one page summary along with your CV (single PDF file) on EasyChair (Submit your One Page Summary) by April 25, 2018. The submission title should be “STUDENT NAME_AFFILIATION_SPHPC2018”.