Optics all around: interview of Gerald Persaud

Amelia Dalton from EE Journal interviews Gerald Persaud, Reflex Photonics' V.P. Business Development.

This week we investigate embedded optical modules with Gerry Persaud from Reflex Photonics - The Light on Board Company. Gerry and I discuss the benefits of  their chip-sized embedded optical modules and why Reflex Photonics stands out in the optical module ecosystem. 

Lear more on Mr. Persaud, V.P. Business Development

Gerald Persaud | V.P. Business Development

Gerald Persaud is responsible for overseeing global marketing, business development and customer initiatives related to the Reflex Photonic's product lines, as well as managing product development and customer technical support. 
Read more

Gerald has over 20 years experience in telecom and defense. Prior to joining Reflex Photonics he held senior management roles in engineering and business development at Nortel, General Dynamic Canada, and Celestica. Gerald has developed many leading products in optical communication, wireless and advanced computing. Gerald doubled revenues at start-up Coresim in one year and precipitated an acquisition by Celestica. He also won the largest design contract ever in Celestica for an OTN switch.
Gerald holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at McMaster University.

Space grade, radiation–hardened LightSPACE optical transceivers ushers a new era of global communication.

Reflex Photonics is proud to announce the launch of the space grade radiation-hardened LightSPACE line of products. The LightSPACE optical transceivers have been submitted to the most stringent protocol for heavy-ions, gamma rays, and high and low energy protons to ensure space worthiness of these components.
Reflex Photonics’ radiation hardened or “Space-grade” transceivers are engineered to withstand radiation doses >100 krad as per the European Cooperation for Space Standardization ECSS-Q-ST-60-15C. In addition to the standard LightABLE rugged transceivers standard qualifications (vibration, mechanical and thermal shock, thermal cycling, and cold storage according to MIL-STD-883 and MIL-STD-810), the LightSPACE were successfully qualified with the following protocols:

  • Proton testing: Total Non-Ionizing Dose (TNID) 
  • Heavy ion testing: Single Event Effect & Latch-up (SEE and SEL)
  • Gamma ray using Cobalt-60: Total Ionizing Dose (TID) (MIL-STD-883G, method 1019.7)

The space community is slowly evolving from an era of mega-projects and unlimited budgets to a dynamic commercial industry that can support multiple business.
One such endeavor envisions complex satellite networks to deliver global Internet access. This project is made possible by more reliable, lower-consumption, smaller and more powerful computer and high-speed optical communication systems.
With the cost of sending even just 1 kg into space at over $50 k, the advantages of using the Reflex Photonics’ line of small, lightweight, high-density LightSPACE parallel optical transceiver modules inside these satellites are quite obvious. The LightSPACE modules offer extremely high aggregate data rates (over 150 Gbps) they are less than 3 cm2 and weigh less than 15 g.

Guillaume Blanchette, PM at Reflex Photonics adds:

Reflex Photonics wants to “bring space a little closer” by offering low-cost optical transceivers and optical infrastructure that will support the deployment of the Internet of Space and enable the next generation of space exploration.

The Internet of space and radiation hardened transceivers

We are on the verge of a new era of human connectivity and communications – the Internet of Space (IoS) is upon us. The explosion of worldwide communications over the past 25 years has led to the pervasive use of mobile and land communications equipment with an abundance of platforms, applications and devices all driving the growth of many of the largest businesses in the world. There is no doubt that this trend will continue through the Internet of Things (IoT), along with improvements to the underlying network infrastructure. However, the next, ‘Small Step’ for man in terms of ubiquitous communications will be the ‘Giant Leap’ into the Internet of Space.

Internet of Space

The Internet of Space (IoS) is a long-term vision that leaders in some of the most technologically advanced companies in the world have begun to seriously consider. Both the European Space Agency and NASA have prepared plans that involve the deployment of networks of satellite around the Earth, Mars and the Sun. These networks are composed of complex communications networks for MIMO microwave antenna arrays and free-space line-of-sight laser links.
These technologies will be responsible for the communications of manned missions to Mars and will have to have the best in terms of redundancy, speed, and network management as most of what we send up, will never be fixed. Further to this however, will be the machine-learning A.I. systems on-board exploratory robots and landers for the moon and Mars including asteroid mining that will be tasked with resource extraction. For example, before the arrival of astronauts on Mars, dozens of intelligent, self-exploring robots and rovers will have to have found water on the planet for them. Basically, the self-driving cars of today will become the self-exploring robots of space.

New players in space exploration

OneWeb Satellites is planning the launch 900 satellites into low Earth orbit beginning in 2018, to deliver Internet access globally.

Coverage areas of each of OneWeb's planned satellites. (OneWeb)

The success of companies like SpaceX have shown that many of the traditionally held ideas about space exploration are breaking down and commercial opportunities are staring to be explored.
With more reliable, lower-consumption, smaller and more powerful computer systems, it is now possible to truly envision complex space networks.
OneWeb Satellites is planning the launch 900 satellites into low Earth orbit beginning in 2018, to deliver Internet access globally.

TeleSat, a Canadian company, has a plan to deploy almost 300 LEO satellites by 2021 to serve as an interconnect for continual 3G data networks for ship and aircraft connections over the oceans. However, as more commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) parts are targeted for space applications as a mean to take advantage of powerful technologies at lower costs, a more meaningful business-case for vendors can now be made to support the space-vendor-ecosystem.

Space environment

However, there is a catch… The space environment itself is extremely severe; outside the protective cushion of the earth’s magnetosphere the exposure to radiation and extreme temperatures can destroy terrestrial electronics. Therefore, to really open these markets, the vendors will have to meet the space community half-way, and do what they can to “space-ify” their COTS products.

LightSPACE radiation hardened optical transceivers

LightSPACE is available in different configurations: 50G (4 TX plus 4 RX lane per device) and 150G (12 TX or 12 RX lane per device).

Reflex Photonics has a plan to do just that – with the cost of sending even just 1 kg into space at over $50 k, the advantages of using the Reflex Photonics’ line of small, lightweight, high-density LightSPACE parallel optical transceiver modules inside the satellites will impact this enormously.
The Reflex family of LightSPACE modules offer extremely high aggregate data rates (over 150 Gbps), the modules are less than 3 cm2 and weigh less than 15 g. They can be placed anywhere on a motherboard or linecard linking powerful CPU’s, GPU’s and FPGA’s across multiple boards and racks.

Rigorous testing

In terms of reliability, the LightSPACE product follows the rigorous environmental testing of MIL-STD-883 with a variety of thermal shock, vibration, humidity and cycling tests included. Furthermore, Reflex Photonics has qualified these parts under very stringent radiation exposure tests: Active Heavy-Ion testing for latch-up, SEE and SET failures, long-term irradiation from PIF and NIF cyclotrons, and long-term exposure (over several weeks) of gamma-rays using Cobalt-60 on active parts. These tests were all done with reference to the ECSS-Q-ST-60-15 Space product assurance standard - Radiation hardness assurance - EEE components.
The space community is slowly evolving from an era of mega-projects and unlimited budgets to a dynamic industry that envisions a commercial market with volumes that can support multiple business. It can no longer afford the “nine-nines” of reliability – especially when private commercial enterprises like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne and XCOR’s Lynx space vehicles are rapidly closing in on tradition institutional domains. Reflex Photonics is part of this belief and this ultimate goal of Bringing space a little closer™ by offering optical transceivers and optical infrastructure that will enable the next generation of space exploration.

Reflex Photonics makes a splash at OFC

Reflex Photonics newly released optical transceivers for Embedded computing and Space captured much attention at OFC2018.

Visitors to Reflex’s booth were surprised by the small size of the LightCONEX active optical blind mate connector for rugged VPX computing and commented that this is the first solution to solve the many real-estate challenges for small rugged embedded computers.
As well, they thought the 300GBps bandwidth over 24 fiber optic channels offered great bandwidth and I/O density for next generation manned and unmanned vehicles.
The newly released LightSPACE radiation hardened space transceivers from Reflex was also a big hit as engineers now have small chip sized optical transceivers that meets the needs for all future space equipment and high altitude aircraft.
Many visitors commented that Reflex is a leader in rugged optical transceivers and are happy we continue to focus on this market.

Demonstration of the LightCONEX blind mate optical interconnect at OFC
Demonstration of the LightCONEX blind mate optical interconnect at OFC
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What are LightCONEX active optical interconnects ?

Reflex Photonics announced the availability of the LightCONEX 12+12 Active Blind Mate Optical Interconnect solution for the embedded computing systems market. This new line of products features 12-lane full-duplex transceivers, each lane operating at up to 12.5 Gbps for an aggregate bandwidth of up to 300 Gbps. These transceivers are rugged, small-SWaP, low-cost modules, specifically designed for the VPX systems commonly deployed in defense and aerospace applications.

The LightCONEX Solution

The LightCONEX solution is the result of a close partnership between Reflex Photonics and Amphenol Aerospace Operations. The LightCONEX comprises a board-edge plug-in module connector, integrating an active parallel optic transceiver, and a spring-loaded backplane connector developed for VPX systems as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. LightCONEX Active Blind Mate VPX Optical Interconnect

The plug-in module connector reduces system cost and complexity since the optical transceiver mounts to the board edge via a low-height LGA connector. It requires no on-board optical cables handling or routing and frees up board space. The LightCONEX low profile plug-in module connector facilitates eventual integration of mezzanine card. This solution enables easy board card replacement for two-level maintenance and simplifies system upgrades.
The backplane connector, also part of the LightCONEX Solution, is “floating” to allow for precise alignment of the optical fibers from the mating MT ferrules. The spring-loading mechanism is coming from the attached fiber cable terminated by the MT ferrule ensuring optimal mating forces.

Figure 1.
LightCONEX Active Blind Mate VPX Optical Interconnect

The dimensions of these connector modules are defined to be fully compatible with the current VITA 66 standards and particularly the upcoming VITA 66.5 “Optical Interconnect on VPX, Spring Loaded Contact on Backplane” standard. The backplane connector is a drop-in replacement for the VITA 66.4 standard backplane connector.

The LightCONEX Active Optical Transceivers

The active optical modules used in the LightCONEX Solution are also available as standalone modules. They are offered in two versions, as shown in figure 2. The first version is offering a (4+4)-lane transceiver, a 12-lane transceiver or a 12- lane transmitter. The dimensions for each module of this version are 23 mm ×14 mm ×5 mm (L×W×H).

LightABLE LGA and LightABLE LGA 12+12

The second version is a (12+12)-lane full duplex transceiver. The MT ferrule of this module has 24 fibers in two rows of 12 on top of each other. Its dimensions are only 32 mm × 14 mm × 5 mm (L×W×H).

Figure 2.
150G and 300G LightCONEX Optical Transceivers

The main features of these active modules are:

  • Rugged: MIL STD 883 compliant
  • Moisture resistant: sealed
  • Compact (L×W×H): 23 mm ×14 mm ×5 mm for the 12-lane version and 32 mm ×14 mm ×5 mm for the 24-lane version
  • High bandwidth: up to 12.5 Gbps/lane
  • Operating temperature: –40 ºC to 100 ºC
  • Reach: 300 m, OM3 fiber
  • Bit Error Rate: 10–15
  • Low power consumption: 1.4 W per module (12-lane), 2.8 W per module (24-lane)
  • Data interface: CML
  • Board mount: LGA connector

All modules include equalizers and pre-emphasis to compensate long traces; these features can be turned off for short traces (less than 10 cm) to reduce power consumption.

300G LightCONEX VPX Blind Mate Connectors

300G LightCONEX composed of a 12-lane transmitter plus a 12-lane receiver.

Figure 3a shows a 12-lane transmitter adjacent to a 12-lane receiver occupying the space reserved for RF coaxial connectors within the VITA 67.3 standard. This arrangement can sustain a total communication throughput of up to 300 Gbps.

300G LightCONEX VPX backplane connector.

Figure 3.
a) 300G LightCONEX composed of a 12-lane transmitter plus a 12-lane receiver.
b) 300G LightCONEX VPX backplane connector.

Future deployments

600G LightCONEX plug-in module composed of two 24-lane transceiver side by side.

To increase the I/O capability while maintaining a small size connector It is possible to set two 300G 24-lane transceivers side by side in the space reserved for RF Coaxial connectors following VITA 67.3 standard. Such a board is offering a total communication capability of up to 600Gbps! This version is illustrated in figure 4.

Figure 4.
600G LightCONEX plug-in module composed of two 24-lane transceiver side by side.

Illustration of a VPX blind mate connector comprising of a 24 fiber MT ferrule and 10 RF coaxial connectors.

Another configuration would use a combination of optical and RF coaxial connections on the same modules. Figure 5 (as proposed by TE Connectivity) illustrates such a configuration. In this illustration, a 300G 24-lane transmitter or receiver or transceiver is integrated with an array of 10 RF coaxial connectors.

Figure 5.
Illustration of a VPX blind mate connector comprising of a 24 fiber MT ferrule and 10 RF coaxial connectors. The size of this connector meets VITA 66.4 standard.

In summary

Optical Interconnects offer high bandwidth throughput, low latency, assure signal integrity and is the most scalable technology for fast upgrades. The rugged construction of the LightCONEX solution has demonstrated error free data transmission under severe shock, vibration, and temperature extremes.
The LightCONEX solution finds applications in multisensor systems, optical backplanes, routers, switches, and VPX systems, like those deployed in high-performance embedded computing systems for civilian and military command and control monitoring (C4ISR) systems.

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Taking the Fast Bridge between Neural Networks

Gerald Persaud, V.P. Business Development at Reflex Photonics gets interviewed by Embedded Systems Engineering

Read the whole interview here.

Lear more on Mr. Persaud, V.P. Business Development

Gerald Persaud | V.P. Business Development

Gerald Persaud is responsible for overseeing global marketing, business development and customer initiatives related to the Reflex Photonic's product lines, as well as managing product development and customer technical support. 
Read more

Gerald has over 20 years experience in telecom and defense. Prior to joining Reflex Photonics he held senior management roles in engineering and business development at Nortel, General Dynamic Canada, and Celestica. Gerald has developed many leading products in optical communication, wireless and advanced computing. Gerald doubled revenues at start-up Coresim in one year and precipitated an acquisition by Celestica. He also won the largest design contract ever in Celestica for an OTN switch.
Gerald holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at McMaster University.

Mr Persaud was interviewed by Ms. Lynnette Reese, Editor-in-Chief, Embedded Systems Engineering
Here are the answers from Mr. persaud:

(...) Reflex Photonics provides tiny optical transceiver chips that can move a tremendous amount of data, which reduces the latency between GPUs so that they can appear as though working seamlessly, in parallel. (...) Technology for optical interconnects is vital in the industry, since processor speeds are outpacing copper wires for bandwidth and latency among devices, including VPX. During our recent interview, Gerald Persaud, VP Business Development at Reflex Photonics, told me this is a solvable problem, even in the harsh environments of military and outer space.

What is Reflex Photonics currently developing?

Today, we are focused on aerospace and defense, and industrial markets. Our expertise is delivering chip sized rugged high bandwidth optical transceivers that work in the harshest environments, such as space. For example, we were recently selected for a major satellite program because our parts could meet the required 20 years lifetime in space. Many optical transceiver suppliers claim high bandwidth operation at 25Gbps per channel but only for an operating temperature of 0 to 70ºC. All of Reflex Photonics’ rugged transceivers operate error-free over a temperature range of -50 to 100ºC while also meeting severe shock, vibration, damp heat, and thermal cycling requirements.

Reflex Photonics’ expertise is in ruggedized optical communications. How did your process for dealing with the challenges of harsh environments evolve?

In 2002 when we started the company our goal was to create a chip-size optical module that could be solder reflowed to support low-cost board assembly. This was much harder than we had imagined due to differences in material properties such as thermal expansion, thermal conductivity, and curing processes. Over the years we were able to incrementally improve our manufacturing processes from a commercial offering to a full space-qualified part. An excellent understanding of materials and processing is critical to the successful production of high-bandwidth rugged optical modules.

What is on your roadmap?

We plan to release higher channel speeds up to 56Gbps, more I/O density such as 24 transmitters or receivers in a chip size optical module. As well, we will continue to harden our parts to meet even wider temperature extremes of -65 to 125oC. Another product we recently released is active blind-mate optical connectors called LightCONEX®. We have gained a great deal of interest in this solution from the VPX community, as it frees up a lot of board space and simplifies field upgrades.

Can you give an example where Reflex Photonics has a play in VPX for machine learning?

One example of this is in unmanned vehicles where machine learning is critical for autonomous operation. Many sensors are interconnected to machine learning VPX compute farms via an optical switch. Optical interconnect, with its long reach, high bandwidth and light weight, is the only viable solution for advanced Autonomous Vehicles (AVs). From the start, Reflex set out to make the smallest rugged optical modules capable of supplying enormous bandwidth (BW) and optical channels. Today, Reflex Photonics’ rugged technologies are field proven and well positioned to take advantage of the trend for smarter, smaller, and robust systems.

How are you dealing with power challenges in a Small Form Factor (SFF)?

Power is indeed a challenge for mobile vehicles, which have a limited amount of power to supply onboard electronics. Today a 150Gbps chip consumes about 1.3 W. However, as bandwidth demand grows from 150Gbps to 2400Gbps over the next five to 10 years we cannot scale power linearly or the same chip will consume 21 W. And there are multiple chips per board!  We will need to introduce techniques to improve optical coupling efficiency and lower laser bias currents. As well, laser drivers and amplifier will need to operate at lower voltages. Closer integration of the drive electronics with optical transceivers could save a lot of power as the need for Clock and Data Recovery (CDR), equalizer, or pre-emphasis could be eliminated.

What are your competitors doing? How is Reflex Photonics any different?

Everyone including Reflex is racing to increase BW and interconnect density. However, in the aerospace and defense sector, suppliers must also meet the challenges of operating in a very harsh environment while keeping space, weight, and power [SWaP] to a minimum. Reflex is different in that we were the first to deliver a 150Gbps chip-size optical module that could operate from -50 to 100ºC while consuming 1.2 W. Most recently Reflex launched the first radiation-hardened parallel optical chip for space applications. These chips passed extreme environmental test conditions that our competitors were unable to meet. This is excellent news for the space industry, where size and weight are critical and smallsats are expected to do far more than their predecessors.

I have always considered price to be a specification. How is your pricing affected by ultra-hardening for space?

The price differential is not as significant as most would expect. In the old days when you said “space,” it meant 10 times the price. Those days are gone. There might be 30% increase in price for space grade over a military grade device. One grade down from military is the industrial device, which has similar operating temperatures but is not expected to have as long a life as Space and MIL grade parts.

Can you detail some of the challenges for optics at extreme operating temperatures?

Optical transceivers require exact alignment (less than five micrometers) of the laser or photodetector to the optical coupler. One challenge is maintaining this alignment over a wide temperature range. Reflex developed a patented approach using materials with low coefficient of thermal expansion and a simple coupling structure with no intermediate lens to maintain alignment over a wide temperature range of -57 to 125ºC. Another challenge is having a cost-effective sealing method (for moisture resistance in the optical path) that will withstand many thermal cycles without compromising the mechanical integrity of the module. Of course, there are other challenges like radiation hardening, solder reflow temperature survival, low power, optical sensitivity, and signal integrity.

What are the different grades of products that you have for harsh environments?

Most of our sales are for MIL, Space and Industrial grade parts. We offer some commercial grades such as QSFP and CFP for Telecom/Datacom markets. Our industrial components are used in many applications such as commercial aircraft, semiconductor wafer inspection, and instrumentation and tests. Most recently, we have had a number of automotive applications for our industrial parts.

Where would the automotive or transportation industry need rugged optical transceivers?

The automotive industry is quite large and includes cars, city buses, transport trucks, and other vehicles. We expect as self-driving or assisted driving goes mainstream fiber-optics will interconnect all systems in the vehicle. Compact AI engines will connect many sensors to automate driving. The vehicles of tomorrow will provide great energy efficiencies, less pollution, and a comfortable and productive driving experience. NVidia is now offering small form factor AI engines that are already deployed in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Any optical transceiver is still going to need fiber to transport the signal in a system. Isn’t vibration a real problem for this kind of signaling in a vehicle?

No. Our parts have been tested to MIL-STD-883, Method 2007.3 for vibration and Method 2002.4 for shock. Vibration is 20 to 2000Hz, 20g, 16 minutes per axis and shock is 500g, 0.5ms pulse, 5 repetitions, 6 directions. These tests were done while transmitting and receiving 150Gbps with no errors.

That’s impressive. What distance and latency are we talking about?

Distance in AVs are typically less than 100 m, and latency is less than 1 microsecond.

Do you see Reflex Photonics involved in Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) someday?

Yes, AVs will require fiber-optics for security, bandwidth, latency, and SWaP. As the leading provider of rugged high bandwidth optical transceivers, Reflex is well positioned to deliver the most reliable optical interconnect for AVs. For large AV industries like commercial automotive one big challenge will be reducing the price of optical transceivers while keeping all the ruggedization testing in place. This will happen over a number of years, and so we will invest accordingly to track market prices.

When do you think AVs will start to get traction?

When the technology is considered safe adoption will happen. This will require years of education and trials. One area of concern is cybersecurity—nobody wants a hacker taking over their vehicle at 60 miles per hour. An effective strategy will be needed to isolate critical control functions from infotainment. This separation is done in commercial aircraft and similar standards will be imposed on AVs. Fiber-optics provide the first level of defense since they are immune to electromagnetic interference and therefore harder to disrupt. As well, learning machines will be smart enough to initiate automatic protection from dangerous threats. Protection techniques commonly used by military aircraft could be deployed.

How do you think the Autonomous Vehicle is going to play out, in reality?

The benefits of autonomous vehicles have long been known, but safety has always been a barrier. The recent advances in AI and low-cost sensors has generated great hope for convenient, safe and cost-effective people transport. Like everyone, I see a gradual shift to AV starting with assisted driving available now to special lanes for AV followed by AV completely dominating the roads. I see China embracing this technology to solve local pollution issues while seizing the opportunity to lead the automotive industry.

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Reflex Photonics to demo its LightCONEX 300G Active Blind Mate Optical VPX Interconnect solution at OFC2018

Reflex Photonics will conduct live demonstrations of its new LightCONEX 300G Active Blind Mate Optical VPX Interconnect solution at the upcoming Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition (OFC 2018).
This new module features 12 full-duplex lanes (12+12) offering an aggregated bandwidth of up to 300G in a unique, rugged, small-SWaP, low-cost module, meeting VITA 66 standards.
The LightCONEX solution frees up board space by integrating the optical transceiver into the board edge of the plug-in module connector. The backplane connector, also part of the LightCONEX solution, has a spring-loaded mechanism ensuring optimal optical mating as required in VITA 66.0 standard. The rugged construction of these connectors ensures error free data transmission under severe shock, vibration, and temperature extremes.

The new LightCONEX 12-lane full-duplex transceiver operates at up to 12.5 Gbps per lane over a temperature from –40°C to 100°C and occupies a very small volume and a footprint of (L×W×H) 32 × 14 × 5 mm. The LightCONEX is also offered as a 12-lane transmitter or receiver, as well as a 4-lane full-duplex transceiver.
The LightCONEX finds applications in optical backplanes, routers, switches and VPX systems, like those deployed in high-performance embedded computing systems for civilian and military command and control (C4ISR) systems.

Reflex Photonics V.P. of Business Development, Gerald Persaud said:

Today’s high-performance computers demand numerous high-bandwidth optical interconnects that uses the least space at the lowest system cost. LightCONEX is the first optical interconnect solution to meet these needs in the super competitive high performance embedded computing market.
The LightCONEX 12+12 represents a remarkable feat of engineering that illustrates once more Reflex’s mastery of advanced optical design. This module offers market leading I/O density and satisfies the most stringent SWaP requirements with a minuscule PCB footprint and volume.

You are invited to see a live demonstration of the LightCONEX 3U VPX interconnect solution and other Reflex Photonics products such as the LightABLE rugged transceiver, LightVISION industrial transceiver, and LightSPACE radiation hardened transceivers, as well as SNAP12, QSFP, and CFP modules.

Come visit us at OFC 2018, Booth #5731 from March 13 to March 15, 2108.

Gerald Persaud (V.P. Business Development) contributes to VITA roundtable

Gerald Persaud, V.P. Business Development at Reflex Photonics was given the opportunity to participate in a VITA expert roundtable.

Read the whole roundtable discussion here.

Lear more on Mr. Persaud, V.P. Business Development

Gerald Persaud | V.P. Business Development

Gerald Persaud is responsible for overseeing global marketing, business development and customer initiatives related to the Reflex Photonic's product lines, as well as managing product development and customer technical support. 
Read more

Gerald has over 20 years experience in telecom and defense. Prior to joining Reflex Photonics he held senior management roles in engineering and business development at Nortel, General Dynamic Canada, and Celestica. Gerald has developed many leading products in optical communication, wireless and advanced computing. Gerald doubled revenues at start-up Coresim in one year and precipitated an acquisition by Celestica. He also won the largest design contract ever in Celestica for an OTN switch.
Gerald holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at McMaster University.

Different questions were being answered by the roundtable experts. Here are Mr. Persaud's answers:

What drivers pushing VITA technologies forward most affect your customers and company, and how are you responding?

Electronic Warfare is evolving faster than ever, as computing power increases exponentially and AI algorithms and sensor technology become more sophisticated. With new Electronic Warfare threats arriving at an alarmingly fast pace, VITA systems are being architected to scale quickly and cost effectively.
Fiber optics, with its enormous bandwidth, is the best interconnect technology for scaling systems. Once the fiber optic infrastructure is installed, it supports multiple technology generations with no change. We support scaling with an array of ruggedized optical transceivers offering line speeds of up to 25 Gbps and I/O densities up to 24 lanes in small chip size modules. In the near future, we will double line rate to 56 Gbps, and we’ll further ruggedize our optical transceivers for more harsh environments, such as space, where radiation hardness is needed.

What trends will be most pertinent to systems integrators working with VITA technologies?

The trend towards autonomous or SMART systems is one that will greatly affect system integrators working with VITA technologies. VITA technologies will have to support machine learning or artificial intelligence capable of accurately characterizing the environment and recommending the best course of action based on massive data input from sensors and other data sources. VITA systems will need to deliver enormous processing power in a smaller and smaller footprint. From the start, Reflex Photonics was structured to make the smallest rugged optical modules capable of supplying enormous BW and optical channels. Today our rugged technologies are field-proven and well positioned to take advantage of the trend for smarter and smaller systems.

What are the three main reasons your company continues to use whichever VITA technologies you have been using the longest?

Reflex Photonics VITA Technology focus is on optical interconnects such as VITA 66 and 67 standards. We see great benefit from active optical blind-mate connectors to simplify system assembly and upgrades. As well, optical blind-mate connectors reduce space and enable field servicing. Our latest LightCONEX blind mate connector integrates an optical module into the backplane connector, thus eliminating the need for separate optical modules, cables, and cable routing. LightCONEX simplifies board assembly since there is no optical cable to assemble and no chance of cracking the glass fibers during assembly.

What myths about VITA technologies should be put to rest?

Myths we hear are the ruggedness of fiber optic interconnect and the cost of fiber-optics versus electrical interconnects.
Yes, fiber-optics may require some additional handling during installation and maintenance but this is small compared to the numerous benefits such as immunity to EMI, light weight, superior bandwidth, reach and scalability. As well, there are many technical approaches to manage the handling issues and Reflex Photonics can provide solutions.
With respect to cost, fiber optics interconnects are generally more expensive, but one has to consider the overall effectiveness of the systems and the cost of upgrades over the life of the equipment. For example, if the cost of fiber optics increases the system cost by 5% but enhances the system by 20% then one has to decide if the additional 15% effectiveness is worth it. For an expensive aircraft, this may mean the difference of losing that aircraft because it was unable to counter a threat quickly enough. As well, the cost of upgrades could be far greater if one has to replace the electrical with optical interconnects to support more advance technologies.

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Reflex Photonics to show its new-generation 150G LightVISION industrial embedded optical transceiver at SPIE Photonics West 2018

Reflex Photonics will proudly launch its new LightVISION industrial embedded optical transceiver solution at the upcoming SPIE Photonics West 2018 exhibition.
The innovative LightVISION is a compact, screw-in, robust, industrial, and RoHS embedded parallel optical module that offers superior performance to current optical interconnect technologies such as QSFP+ and QSFP28.
The LightVISION has been especially designed for data intensive imaging and machine vision applications that require high-resolution cameras, sensors, LIDAR, and surveillance cameras. The LightVISION can be deployed in harsh environments found in smart cars and smart cities applications.

The LightVISION optical interconnect solution can support a bandwidth of up to 150 Gbps over 100 meters. Furthermore, it is offered with a standard MTP/MPO snap-in interface that facilitates its integration into commercial products. The LightVISION is highly flexible: it is offered as a 2 to 12-lane (transmit or receive), or as a 4-lane duplex transceiver. All modules operate at up to 12.5 Gbps per lane at ultra-low bit error rates of 10-15.

Guillaume Blanchette, PM at Reflex Photonics comments:

The LightVISION small-form factor is particularly well suited for the new generation of high-speed, high-bandwidth 40GigE cameras. Its revolutionary technology reduces SWaP and improves overall design and ruggedness of these instruments.
Compared to QSFP+, the Reflex Photonics LightVISION occupies 7 times less space, has multiple board mounting option, and consumes less power.

Optical interconnect for high-speed, high-bandwidth 10GigE and 40GigE cameras

Machine vision will benefit from the high-bandwidth of the LightVISION industrial optical transceiver

The LightVISION™ with emQSFP+™ acts like a QSFP+ but offers reduced dimensions and power consumption, industrial temperature range, multiple board mounting options, and board mount and edge mount capability. This new optical module will outclass QSFP+ on multiple front and it is backed by Reflex Photonics proven reliability and rugged design. This new device is perfectly suited for 40GigE high-speed camera and demanding machine vision applications.

Description of the application

40GigE camera can generate of to 40 Gbps of data that needs to be transferred from the sensor to servers or computers across a fast and reliable link. 
It is well known in the high-bandwidth connectivity world that signal integrity tends to degrade at baud rate higher than 10 Gbps over traditional copper links. At these rates, an optical link is the only viable solution to transfer the information generated by these high-bandwidth devices. 
This is why 40GigE camera integrator are now offering cameras that integrate optical module capable of >40 Gbps electro-optical conversion. For that purpose, up to now, camera designers were considering QSFP+ devices.

Reflex Photonics is proud to offer an innovative solution that integrates the capabilities of QSFP+, but in a format, that occupies 7 times less space, offers multiple board mounting option, and consumes less power. The LightVISION is now giving camera designers the ability to envision more compact and more reliable product that can be deployed in harsh environments.

Benefits of using Reflex Photonics’ industrial LightVISION  

  • Suitable for harsh environment and automotive applications .
  • QSFP+ technology replacement.
  • New generation of optical engine (emQSFP+).
  • Interoperability with QSFP+
  • Flexible height with LGA interposer.
  • Standard MTP/MPO cable connection.
  • RoHS, robust, screw-in board-mounted optical module with reduced footprint.
  • Performance: up to 50G from −40 ºC to 85 ºC .
  • Low power consumption: >100 mW per lane.
  • Bandwidth of 50G (4TX and 4 RX lane).
  • Multimode 850 nm wavelength laser.
  • Over 100 m reach on OM3 ribbon fiber.
  • Standard MPO parallel fiber connector.
  • 100GBASE-SR4 compatible.

Module or transceiver used in this application

LightVISION rugged industrial optical transceiver.

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LightVISION with LightSNAP interface

The LightVISION is a screw-in, robust, industrial and RoHS optical module with LightSNAP interface. LightSNAP adds a standard MPO pluggable optical interface to the LightVISION optical module. This combination allows a standard MPO cable to be plugged in the camera housing and on a frame grabber card.
This approach offers a standard MPO cable connection with a robust, board mounted optical engine providing small size (footprint) and convenient optical cabling at the same time. In addition, the MPO connector is covered with an outside cover boot addressing the issue of water and dust contamination.

LightSNAP interface adds a standard MPO pluggable optical interface to the LightVISION optical module.

LightVISION is offered as a 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12-lane transmitter, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12-lane receiver or a 4+4-lane transceiver.

View of the board assembly

LightVISION LGA interposer and board attachment.

Size comparison between a QSFP+ (top) and a LightVISION transducer (bottom). LightVision occupies 7 times less volume than a QSFP+.

Size comparison between a QSFP+ (top) and a LightVISION transducer (bottom). LightVision occupies 7 times less volume than a QSFP+. 

LightVISION rugged embedded industrial transceiver

LightVISION and QSFP+ feature comparison

  QSFP+ LightVISION
Dimensions (L × W × H) in mm 72 × 18 × 9 23 × 14 × 5
Temperature (ºC) 0 to 70 −40 to 85
Mounting options Few Multiple
Direct board mounting No Yes
Power <1.25 W <1 W
MTP/MPO interface Yes Yes
RoHS compliance Yes Yes
Price Low Low
100GBASE-SR4 compatibility Yes Yes
Hot pluggable Yes No
I2C interface Yes Yes
850 nm emission Yes Yes
OM3 fiber Yes Yes
Example of integration of LightVISION in a high-resolution camera.

Example of integration of LightVISION in a high-resolution camera.