Nubis Communications and Alphawave Semi Unveil Optical PCI Express 6.0 Breakthrough


February 6, 2024

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Summary: Nubis Communications and Alphawave Semi are teaming up to demonstrate their new PCI Express 6.0 technology, which utilizes optical transmission to support larger cluster sizes for AI/ML architectures, at DesignCon.

  • Impressive 64GT/s per lane speed
  • Extended link distances compared to traditional copper cables
  • Supports up to 16 lanes of high-density PCIe Gen 6.0 or 100 Gbps/lane Ethernet optical connectivity without the need for retimers


Nubis Communications and Alphawave Semi have joined forces to showcase their upcoming demonstration of PCI Express 6.0 technology driving over an optical link at an impressive 64GT/s per lane. This advancement in high-speed connectivity has caught the attention of data center providers who are looking to expand the reach and flexibility of their interconnects for memory, CPUs, GPUs, and custom silicon accelerators. The goal is to create more scalable and energy-efficient clusters for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML/AI) architectures.

The live demonstration will take place at DesignCon, the important conference for advanced chip, board, and system design technologies. Alphawave Semi will be utilizing their PCIe Subsystem with PiCORE Controller IP and PipeCORE PHY to directly drive and receive PCIe 6.0 traffic through Nubis Communications’ XT1600 linear optical engine. This will showcase a PCIe 6.0 optical link at an impressive 64GT/s per fiber, with the optical output waveform being measured on a Tektronix sampling scope with a high-speed optical probe.

The use of optical transmission technology allows for significantly extended link distances compared to traditional copper cables, making it possible to support larger cluster sizes needed for AI/ML servers distributed over multiple nodes. This innovation also enables the exploration of new disaggregated network architectures. The Nubis XT1600 optical engine is capable of supporting up to 16 lanes of high-density PCIe Gen 6.0 or 100 Gbps/lane Ethernet optical connectivity without the need for retimers.

Scott Schube, VP of Marketing at Nubis Communications, expressed excitement about the integration capabilities of their low-power, low-latency optical engine. With 16 lanes full-duplex in a single engine, it perfectly matches the maximum bandwidth of PCIe x16 for next-generation compute and Storage deployments. The demonstration of the Nubis XT1600 linear optical engine, paired with Alphawave Semi’s PCIe 6.0 Controller and PHY IP, clearly showcases the potential of a PCIe 6.0 x8 link over optical fiber at an impressive 64 GT/s.

Tony Chan Carusone, CTO at Alphawave Semi, highlighted the impact of AI applications on data center networks. As hyperscalers deploy larger clusters of disaggregated servers over longer distances, the interest in PCIe over Optics has grown significantly among their customers. Through their collaboration with Nubis, Alphawave Semi aims to leverage their expertise in connectivity IP and silicon to deliver PCIe optical connectivity solutions that accelerate high-performance AI computing and data infrastructure.

Nubis Communications and Alphawave Semi Unveil Optical PCI Express 6.0 Breakthrough

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Technology Explained


latency: Technology latency is the time it takes for a computer system to respond to a request. It is an important factor in the performance of computer systems, as it affects the speed and efficiency of data processing. In the computer industry, latency is a major factor in the performance of computer networks, storage systems, and other computer systems. Low latency is essential for applications that require fast response times, such as online gaming, streaming media, and real-time data processing. High latency can cause delays in data processing, resulting in slow response times and poor performance. To reduce latency, computer systems use various techniques such as caching, load balancing, and parallel processing. By reducing latency, computer systems can provide faster response times and improved performance.


PCIe: PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is a high-speed serial computer expansion bus standard for connecting components such as graphics cards, sound cards, and network cards to a motherboard. It is the most widely used interface in the computer industry today, and is used in both desktop and laptop computers. PCIe is capable of providing up to 16 times the bandwidth of the older PCI standard, allowing for faster data transfer speeds and improved performance. It is also used in a variety of other applications, such as storage, networking, and communications. PCIe is an essential component of modern computing, and its applications are only expected to grow in the future.



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