2017 brings increased attention to mid-board optical engines. Samtec’s solution in this space – FireFly™ Micro Flyover System™ – continues to win over new customers in new applications.
FireFly™ and other Samtec related optical products are some of the fastest growing product lines at Samtec. As both portfolios continue to expand, this opens additional applications for Samtec’s FireFly™ and optical solutions. More specifically, ruggedized and extended temperature FireFly™ applications are becoming increasingly popular.
FPGAs and FireFly™ Mid-Board Optical Engines: The Perfect Solution?
In the FPGA world, the demand for mid-board optics is thriving and advancing. Commercially-available FPGAs already support transceivers at data rates up to 28 Gbps and beyond. Additionally, the roadmaps of the major FPGA vendors show 56 Gbps transceivers are on the horizon.
Transferring data at these rates over long lengths in lossy PCB material can be tricky. Using CDRs and good SI/PCB layout techniques are approaches many OEMs continue to use. However, flying that data over the lossy PCBs via copper or optical cables is an approach the FPGA industry (and others) are adopting.
One example of that is the new Xilinx Virtex® UltraScale+™ FPGA VCU118 Evaluation Kit. This new kit based on Xilinx’s flagship FPGAs includes Samtec’s latest 28 Gbps FireFly™ solutions.
The VCU118 provides engineers a platform for comparing pluggable optical transceivers with mid-board optics like FireFly™ side-by-side. Xilinx recently blogged about some of the results this new platform can deliver at 28 Gbps.
Chip-to-Chip at the Speed of Light?
Interesting question. That may call to mind a PCB using optical components like waveguides and multiplexers. Another thought may be next generation systems based in 56 Gbps Silicon Photonics.
Both of those approaches may be true. In reality, many current applications are using mid-board optical engines like FireFly™ for onboard communications. Why? Some of the technical experts at Avnet Abacus consider this in their latest Engineers’ Insight. Samtec’s FireFly™ solution features prominently in their analysis.
Expanded FireFly™ Options
In 2016, Samtec continued to expand the FireFly™ portfolio with the release of ETUO and PCUO solutions among others. 2017 will be another banner year for FireFly™ as well. Samtec plans additional details on our extended 28 Gbps FireFly™ roadmap throughout the year.
In an effort to showcase the expanding FireFly™ portfolio, Samtec has released the new FireFly™ Application Design Guide. This piece gives an overview of the combined features and benefits that cannot be found in any other interconnect system, and why FireFly™ is growing in popularity.