Fiber optics and optical transceivers are the backbone of long distance communication networks. Yet, optical transceivers find homes outside of data centers, optical switches and FTTH.
Samtec’s FireFly™ Micro Flyover System™ has been designed with flexibility in mind. FireFly enables system architects and designers the option of using either optical or copper interconnects in the connector system.
That flexibility is ideal for any mid-board or ASIC adjacent embedded applications. Example applications include FPGA-based system designs, phased radar arrays, medical imaging, test & measurement and many more.
Often times, embedded engineers designing in FireFly may be working with optics for the first time. Samtec’s crack squad of optical applications engineers stand ready to assist any customer to over come any technical challenges they may face. Let’s meet one of the team, Samtec Optical Applications Engineer Extraordinaire Kevin Burt.
One of Many Experts – Kevin Burt
What attracted you to the engineering field?
I am a physicist at heart and studied laser engineering and optics at university. After that, I was hired by Nortel as an engineer working on the first 10 Gbps optics. I have been in engineering ever since.
What is your current role at Samtec?
Like many people at Samtec, I wear many hats. One key role is being part of the optical applications engineering team. As a group, we provide technical support for the FireFly Micro Flyover System.
What does a typical day look like for the optical applications engineering team at Samtec?
Well, there is no typical day. Samtec’s optical applications engineers tend to be involved in all parts of the product lifecycle. That said, most of our time is spent working with customers to help them use our optical products. This could be anything from helping them choose the right product, understand the technical requirements or helping get the most out of the product in their end system.
What are some of the technical challenges you and your team assist Samtec customers with?
For most applications, we help customers with the Signal Integrity, Power Integrity, and thermal requirements of their system with FireFly. We can also help them understand the optical performance of the part. Also, we can help define a product which can cope with the aggressive power budgets of military systems.
Additionally, one of the more complex challenges we face is helping customers use our PCIe® product variants like PCUO series and PCOA series. Extending the PCIe bus extend outside the chassis requires a number of system shortcuts.
What Samtec solutions and services help customers address these challenges?
The applications team has a lot of knowledge and experience with the optical products gained from helping customers in the field. For those different, challenging problems, we are fortunate to have many talented experts internally that we can lean on for support.
For example, the Samtec Signal Integrity Group can help create IBIS/AMI models for the different products. Also, Samtec’s thermal experts can create Flowtherm models of the various FireFly solutions. Further, we have an internal qualification lab who support environmental performance qualifications. Finally, our optical experts design and characterize the device performances.
What roles do you see Samtec optical solutions playing in the future?
At Samtec, we are fortunate that we can explore both commercial and Mil/Aero applications development simultaneously. On the commercial side, silicon photonics is opening up pathways to robust links at more than 100 Gbps.
For Mil/Aero, silicon photonics will also play a role, but further in the future. In the near term, we can expect environmentally robust multi-mode solutions designed with optimized SWaP-C protected against the harsh environments of the real world.