How was the 50G PAM4 VCSEL Developed and Produced?

Fiber Mall visited a company that develops and manufactures VCSEL optical chips, which focuses on the R&D, manufacturing, and sales of III-V compound semiconductor laser chips. The company has independently built a production line from wafer to tape-out, with complete optical performance and reliability testing capabilities. Its products are commercially available in high-speed optical communication, consumer electronics, as well as medical and LIDAR fields.

VCSEL optical chips

The company’s vice general manager of VCSEL research and development told Fiber Mall that in 2020, the company realized the transition from the product R&D stage to commercial use, with R&D investment of more than 40 million yuan. At the beginning of 2021, a new workshop has been built and put into use, and the company continues to maintain a high intensity of R&D investment. The company covers a total area of 10,000 square meters, including 5,000 square meters of advanced production workshops. The core equipment has been put into round-the-clock production operation after debugging and verification. The company has built two 4-inch gallium arsenide production lines with a designed daily output of more than 150,000 pieces.

The R&D and production of semiconductor chips are divided into IDM(Integrated Design and Manufacture) vertical Integrated manufacturing and Fabless manufacturing mode. It is not easy for optical chip manufacturers based on compound semiconductor materials to adopt IDM mode. Fiber Mall believes that the IDM mode of optical chip can improve the efficiency of product quality control and customized R&D, especially to realize the independent production of optical chip epitaxial wafers. Epi-wafer material is the core of semiconductor laser preparation process, the quality of it determines the performance of the optical chip and the length of service life. VCSEL optical chip Company has fully mastered the epitaxial production process, and can produce the following process of optical chip on the basis of controlling the quality of the previous process so that it is easier to find product defects and find out the problem. At the same time, VCSEL Optical chip Company’s own epitaxial growth, tape out, performance testing, and aging analysis capabilities can respond to the customer’s project requirements of differentiated chips faster. With the support of optical module customers, the company’s high-speed VCSEL products have higher feedback efficiency than similar enterprises in reliability testing, performance verification and market feedback, which is helpful to accelerate product iteration and upgrading.

Based on IDM vertical integrated manufacturing, VCSEL Optical Chip Company can produce hundreds of pieces per month at full load. In 2021, the company realized the mass production of self-developed epitaxial 25G NRZ VCSEL(Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser) optical chip. According to the 2021 Communication Optical Chip and Its Application Market Development Survey Report, 80% of the market share of 25G and above rate VCSEL products is occupied by Broadcom, II-VI, SONY and other companies. Fiber Mall said that VCSEL optical chip company was positioned in the development, production and sales of high-end VCSEL optical chip from the beginning. With the gradual maturity of R&D capability, the advantages of IDM vertical integrated manufacturing laid a solid foundation for the next stage of development. While the company continued to launch higher-rate VCSEL products, it will also use its own advantages to develop VCSEL chip products for other applications.

50G PAM4 VCSEL chip products

50G PAM4 VCSEL Chip Products

VCSEL’s high investment in semiconductor materials led to the evolution of VCSEL products. After the commercial availability of the 25G NRZ VCSEL, the company launched the full 50G PAM4 VCSEL product in the first half of this year, targeting the growing demand for 200G/400G optical modules in data centers. As for the market development expectation of 50G PAM4 VCSEL, the PAM4 project leader and senior engineer of research and development expressed that the company has the confidence to compete with foreign products in this segment. On the one hand, the 50G VCSEL has completed all the in-plant tests in batch, and has been verified by many optical module customers and obtained batch orders. On the other hand, the company is also fully prepared for the upcoming market demand and order delivery of production materials and shipment verification. VCSEL Optical Chip Company has closely matched market needs for everything from product performance and reliability to customer service.

Test result of the eye diagram of the 400G SR8 optical module

The Test Result of the Eye Diagram of the 400G SR8 Optical Module

10000 hours reliability

 

10000 Hours Reliability

Cumulative failure distribution

Cumulative failure distribution

He added that the future product roadmap is divided into two directions: high speed and high power. Apart from the 850nm 50G PAM4 VCSEL currently available for mass production, the company will soon launch 910nm 50G PAM4 VCSEL for 400G SR4.2 optical module applications. In addition, vehicle-mounted lidar, medical beauty, and sensing VCSEL are also in the company’s portfolio. The company also plans to officially launch the development of the 100G PAM4 product in the second half of this year.

VCSEL laser is the mainstream choice of short-distance transmission optical module in the data centers, which is the main market of optical communication module devices and photoelectric chips. Fiber Mall forecasts that the global optical transceiver market size for data communications (major index data centers) will grow from USD 4.15 billion in 2020 to USD 8 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 14%, with the Chinese market growing from USD 850 million in 2020 to USD 1.95 billion. Global Head Internet company 200G/400G optical module demand release, 800G optical module is also on the eve of market volume, short distance transmission in the data center ultra-high-speed optical module needs 50G/100G VCSEL laser chip. The value of VCSEL products is to meet the demand of ultra-high speed transmission in the Internet data centers. We believe that in the new generation of high-speed optical communication applications, VCSEL optical chip company’s high-speed VCSEL will create more value for the development of customers’ ultra-high speed optical interconnection.

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