Reflex Photonics to show its LightCONEX active optical backplane connector at OFC2017

LightCONEX is a backplane interconnect solution that integrates a multilane optical transceiver into a small, rugged board-edge connector to enable easy circuit card replacement and simplify system upgrades. This new connector reduces system cost and complexity as it requires no onboard optical cables or cable routing features. As well, it frees up board space by integrating the optical transceiver into the board edge connector. Its rugged construction ensures error free data transmission under severe shock, vibration, and temperature extremes.
The LightCONEX is offered as a 4-lane full-duplex transceiver or a 12-lane transmitter or receiver operating at up to 25 Gbps per lane over a temperature from –40°C to 85°C and occupies a very small volume of 24 (L) × 14 (W) × 5 (H) mm. It is mounted on the plug-in module board via a 1 mm high LGA socket and its output connector is compatible with the VITA 66.4 backplane aperture standard.
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 monitoring systems.


Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Gestion AD Invest $3.5 Million in Reflex Photonics

Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Gestion AD Invest $3.5 Million in Kirkland-Based Reflex Photonics

From left to right:
Mr. Charles Sylvestre, Senior Director, Investments - Information Technology, Telecommunications and Environment -Fonds de Solidarité FTQ
Mr. Noël Dubé, President and CEO -Reflex Photonics
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia, Member of Parliament for Lac-Saint-Louis
Mr. Jean-Philippe Brassard, Regional Director, Greater Montréal Business Office -Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

In order to allow Reflex Photonics to acquire cutting-edge infrastructure and equipment for its continued growth, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ is investing $3 million in the company’s growth. For its part, Gestion AD is investing  $500,000. This co-investment is part of the “Fonds de solidarité FTQ Investissements technologiques partnership” launched in 2012. Total investments of $5.5 million in the company from all financial partners will allow to consolidate 24 jobs and create 14 more. At the same time, Lac-St-Louis MP Francis Scarpaleggia announced a $500,000 refundable contribution from Canada Economic Development. 

Electronic Design magazine: Optical Goes Small and Rugged


William Wong from Electronic Design magazine writes about the exciting introductions made by Reflex Photonics at VITA’s Embedded Tech Trends 2017.

Optical Goes Small and Rugged

Reflex Photonics’ LightABLE series delivers up to a dozen 10-Gbit/s transmit and receive optical channels that are used in a range of rugged boards.

VITA’s Embedded Tech Trends 2017 conference was host to a range of new optical announcements.
Optical connectivity has significant advantages in electrically noisy, rugged environments. It does not have the crosstalk and distances issues that copper does. Optical connections are able to run faster and over longer distances, making them more desirable in rugged, embedded applications. Copper will still be used when possible because of its lower cost, but… Read the full article

Reflex Photonics to present a paper at the 9th NATO Military Symposium

A paper written by Mr. Michel Têtu, Gerald Persaud, Jocelyn Lauzon, and Dave Rolston and entitled On-Board Rugged Optical Interconnects for Embedded Computing Systems in C4ISR applications will be presented at the SET-241 Symposium to be held within the 9th NATO Military Sensing Symposium in Quebec City on May 31st to June 2nd, 2017.

Summary of the article

For military and aerospace applications, the C4ISR approach (Command, Control, Compute, Communicate, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) is mandatory for almost instantaneous high end decision making. This process requires the collection and processing of signals generated by a large amount of sensors of various configurations like active electronically scanned array radar, high resolution cameras, sonars and so on. These primary analog signals are digitized and transmitted to a high performance embedded computing unit (HPEC) for data fusion and processing through high bit rate communication links.

Symposium on 9th NATO Military Sensing Symposium [SET-241] 
Québec City

Learn more about the SET 241

Reflex Photonics will exhibit at OFC 2017

Reflex Photonics will present its latest rugged optical transceiver designs and conduct live demonstrations of harsh vibration and temperature testing.
In addition, new VPX optical solutions including the new LightCONEX VPX Blind Mate Optical connector with integrated transceiver will be presented.

Come visit us at OFC 2017, Booth #3939 from March 21 to March 23 2107.
The Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California, USA.

Technical Conference
19 – 23 March 2017
21 – 23 March 2017

Reflex Photonics has exhibited at Embedded Tech Trends 2017


Reflex Photonics has presented its latest rugged optical transceiver designs and has conducted live demonstrations of harsh vibration and temperature testing.
Innovative VPX optical solutions including the new LightCONEX VPX Blind Mate Optical connector with integrated transceiver have also be presented.

In addition, a presentation entitled Lighting the Way for Embedded Systems has be made by Michel Tétu.
ETT 2017 has be held January 23 and 24, 2017 at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, LA, USA.

Parallel Optics: The Next Leap for Embedded System

Gérald Persaud, VP Business Development and Michel Têtu, Senior Business Development Advisor

C4ISR applications

Command, control, compute, communicate, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems (C4ISR) rely on accurate views of local situations for decisions that are critical to national defense. Fiber optics interconnect has emerged as the only viable technology to carry the massive amount of information generated by high resolution radars, infra-red cameras and other sensors.  Fiber optic-interconnect are small, immune to EMI and has superior bandwidth to traditional copper interconnect.
Reflex Photonics optical embedded transceivers are small, rugged, lower power components enabling the transmission and processing of high bandwidth sensor information.

Eyes and ears everywhere

Command, Control, Compute, Communicate, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance
Computerized Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance

Illustration of the relation between the different elements of C4ISR systems (Command, Control, Compute, Communicate, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance).

ISR trend

Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) trend is for more information and accurate views of the situations with longer mission times.  For example, UAVs with high resolution sensors and high performance embedded computing have become an invaluable tool to defense.  They can survey large areas quickly and at much lower cost than manned aircraft.

ISR systems need:

  • Higher resolution sensor arrays with high BW fiber optic interfaces
  • Enormous signal processing with scalable computers
  • Lower SWaP-C
  • Rugged and reliable components to survive extreme temperature, vibration, and moisture …
UAVs with high resolution sensors and high performance embedded computing have become an invaluable tool to defense. These drones can survey large areas quickly and at much lower cost than manned aircraft.
Phased array radar require massive amount of interconnect bandwidth

Parallel optics – The embedded leap for C4ISR

Parallel optics provides multiple high bandwidth interconnects in a space ten time smaller than co-axial copper interconnects. With almost unlimited bandwidth it is clear that all future interconnects for embedded systems will use parallel optics.
Reflex Photonics supplies chip size rugged parallel optics transceivers to operate in harsh military environments. These embedded parallel optical modules are qualified to MIL-STD-883E for severe environmental conditions. 

Surface mount

  • SMT construction provides high resistance to shock and vibration via low CG and solder attach
  • SMT support heat sinking to host board to reduce height and weight

Optical Connector

  • MT connector enables pick-and-place part
  • MT connector simplifies manufacturability (no pigtail)


  • Low-mass cable and retainer tolerates high shock and vibration
  • High temp materials/simple structure = reliable performance in harsh environments
High temperature materials and simple structure equals reliable performance in harsh environments.

High temperature materials and simple structure equals reliable performance in harsh environments.

System performance - BER

System performance of an optical link is determined by the quality of the signal generated by the TX, channel impairments (fiber optics cable and interconnects) and the sensitivity of the receiver over a bandwidth range. Rugged transceivers must operate over wide temperatures (at least -40 ºC to 85 ºC) which makes it challenging to maintain low bit error rates (BER) at the high operating speed.  For example, the laser response slows with temperature making it difficult to maintain an open eye at speed beyond 6 Gbps. At high temperatures the laser output power declines and causes a decrease in signal to noise ratio. As well, the response time decreases which can cause a high level of ringing. The TX eye diagram is a useful method to assess the quality of the signal generated over temperature. Open eyes correlates to low BER as the receiver is given more bit time to accurately discriminate a high signal from a low signal.
The eye diagram in figure below shows the LightABLE transmitting 10 Gbps at -40 ºC.  It uses the 802.3ab Ethernet mask to show there is a huge bit time margin for the receiver to accurately detect a high from a low. This is why Reflex Photonics transceivers can deliver BER better than 10-15.

System performance -BER
10G Challenge. The closing eye has a significant impact on BER

10G Challenge

  • Laser response slows significantly below -30 ºC causing eye to close at 10G
  • The closing eye has a significant impact on BER
  • IEEE802.3ab specifies a BER of 10-12 - high performance systems expect 10-15

Rugged optics requirements

Reflex Photonics LightABLE embedded transceivers offer small SWaP-C, operation over industrial temperature range (-40 °C to 85 °C), a bit error rate (BER) as low as 10-15, survivability to storage temperature from - 57 °C to 125 °C. The LightABLE can be surface mounted using leaded or RoHS reflow processes or it can be plugged into a board with a Meg-Array socket. Mounting the LightABLE close to the electrical driver delivers the best signal integrity and lowest power operation. The optical fiber interface is a standard MT ferrule directly attached to the module for compatibility with standard connectors and cables.

Operating temperature

  • -40 ºC to 85 ºC or wider
  • Considerations: BER at 10G – due to laser response over temperature

Storage temperature

  • -57 ºC to 125 ºC
  • Considerations: Reliability – mechanical stress, laser alignment

Shock and vibration

  • MIL-STD-810xx – aircraft, land vehicles, gun shock
  • Considerations:
    • Socket with low wipe contact is a concern
    • Mechanical attach strength – SMT vs socket


  • SMT offers low height without bulky heat sinks for tightly stacked blades
  • Embedded optics typically consumes 100 mW/10G channel
  • Weight is typically 5 g


  • Seal to avoid moisture from obstructing optics
  • For example, rapid decompression condenses air moisture

Bit error rate (BER)

  • IEEE802.3ab for 10G Ethernet is specified as 10-12
  • High performance systems expect 10-15 to avoid power hungry FEC, CDR, or equalizers.
  • Higher the BW, lower the expected BER!

Link budget

  • Link budget is the loss that can be tolerated between the transmitter and the receiver for a certain BER
  • Main sources of loss are connector return loss and mode dispersion for multimode fiber
  • TX output should be derated based on mask margin – jitter power penalty


  • Scalable BW – up to 28G
  • Signal integrity – BER of 10-15
  • Low loss – 0.003 dB/m (OM3 @10G)
  • Reach – 300 m (OM3 @10G)
480G full duplex I/O card


  • Small – 125 µm diameter fiber
  • Light weight –  <1.5 g/m (OM3)
  • High I/O density – 48 fibers in MT connector
  • Lower power – 100 mW/10Gbps
Optic fiber offer much better I/O density that copper interconnect.


  • -40 ºC to 85 ºC operation @ 10 Gbps
  • MIL-STD-810xx Shock and vibration
  • Moisture resistant
  • EMI and nuclear radiation immune
Optic fiber are immune to electro magnetic interferences.

Interface Concept choses LightABLE for new generation Optical FMC cards.

Interface Concept choses Reflex Photonics LightABLE LH SR12 embedded optical transceivers for new generation Optical FMC cards.

Interface Concept, a leading developer and manufacturer of high performance boards and systems for civil and military embedded applications, is launching the Optical FMC IC-OPT-FMCPa, a new generation of FMC board. This new VITA 57.1/57.4 compliant FMC offers up to 120 Gbps of full-duplex bandwidth and can be used with all the FPGA Front End Processing board of Interface Concept.
Reflex Photonics is an advanced developer of rugged high-speed optical transceivers. The LightABLE™ LH Series includes a 12 channel transmitter, a 12 channel receiver, and a 4 channel transceiver. They operate at 10 Gbps/channel in commercial, extended, and industrial operating temperatures. These components can be mounted directly on a high-speed printed circuit board via surface mount technology or via a MEG-array connector.