• Ayar Labs says its technology is much quicker than conventional copper-based alternatives.
  • TeraPHY, an interconnect module developed by Ayar Labs, uses light rather than electricity to transmit data between the components of a server.

Recently, Ayar Labs Inc., a startup creating a novel method of connecting chips in data centers, announced that it has raised USD 25 million from investors.

A USD 130 million Series C round that the startup closed last year was extended with the new funding. The new investment was led by Capital TEN and is referred to as a Series C1 raise. Along with several other backers, Nvidia Corp. also took part.

Charles Wuischpard, CEO of Ayar Labs, said, “This C1 adds sophisticated investor partners that will allow us to accelerate our strategic roadmap, and is further validation of our technology and plan to bring silicon photonics-based interconnect solutions to market at scale.”

Copper wires connect the processor, memory chips, and other server parts, enabling data exchange between them. Electric signals that carry data are sent over the wires. TeraPHY, an interconnect module created by Ayar Labs, uses light instead of electricity to transmit data between the parts of a server.

The startup’s technology is said to be much faster than conventional copper-based alternatives. Ayar claims its TeraPHY modules deliver 1,000 times more bandwidth density with half the power. As a result, each module can transfer up to 25.6 terabits of data per second among a server’s chips.

The error-proneness of traditional copper-based interconnects restricts their speed. Forward error correction is a technology that must be used when sending data over a copper link at rates greater than 50 gigabits per second to guarantee the data will reach its destination. Ayar claims that the technology makes latency higher, which slows its performance.

The likelihood of errors increases as more data is transmitted simultaneously over a copper link. As a result, boosting the speed of conventional copper-based interconnects is getting more and more challenging. According to Ayar Labs, their optical TeraPHY module gets around that restriction.

As a module that can be incorporated into the design of server processors, TeraPHY is implemented as a chiplet. Millions of transistors using a 45-nanometer process make up each chiplet. Hundreds of onboard optical components also control the light that TeraPHY uses to transmit data.

TeraPHY uses SuperNova, an external device, to produce the light rather than producing it itself. According to Ayar, the latter device can handle a bandwidth of more than eight terabits per second. SuperNova can also be replaced if there is a problem because it is a standalone module rather than a component of TeraPHY.

The technology offers additional advantages in addition to accelerating data transfer between chips. According to the manufacturer, TeraPHY consumes ten times less energy than copper-based alternatives. Additionally, it can send data between more than 1.2 miles apart systems.

To improve performance, Ayar foresee chipmakers using TeraPHY modules into central processor units, graphics cards, and other products. The startup thinks that, in the long run, its technology might enable new server designs.

The data that chips like graphics cards process is stored in onboard memory circuits. Ayar claims that TeraPHY may separate an integrated chip’s onboard memory circuits into a separate module. The startup believes such a method could hasten workloads like models for artificial intelligence.

It currently needs to be more practical to divide processors into multiple devices because doing so would increase the distance data must travel within a server. Processing would become slower as a result of the longer travel time. The high speed of Ayar’s TeraPHY interconnect, it claims, overcomes that restriction.

The company will support chip development and commercialization efforts with the proceeds from its most recent USD 25 million raise.