Design of clock and data recovery circuits for energy-efficient short-reach optical transceivers

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Khanghah, Meysam M.
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University College Cork
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Nowadays, the increasing demand for cloud based computing and social media services mandates higher throughput (at least 56 Gb/s per data lane with 400 Gb/s total capacity 1) for short reach optical links (with the reach typically less than 2 km) inside data centres. The immediate consequences are the huge and power hungry data centers. To address these issues the intra-data-center connectivity by means of optical links needs continuous upgrading. In recent years, the trend in the industry has shifted toward the use of more complex modulation formats like PAM4 due to its spectral efficiency over the traditional NRZ. Another advantage is the reduced number of channels count which is more cost-effective considering the required area and the I/O density. However employing PAM4 results in more complex transceivers circuitry due to the presence of multilevel transitions and reduced noise budget. In addition, providing higher speed while accommodating the stringent requirements of higher density and energy efficiency (< 5 pJ/bit), makes the design of the optical links more challenging and requires innovative design techniques both at the system and circuit level. This work presents the design of a Clock and Data Recovery Circuit (CDR) as one of the key building blocks for the transceiver modules used in such fibreoptic links. Capable of working with PAM4 signalling format, the new proposed CDR architecture targets data rates of 50−56 Gb/s while achieving the required energy efficiency (< 5 pJ/bit). At the system level, the design proposes a new PAM4 PD which provides a better trade-off in terms of bandwidth and systematic jitter generation in the CDR. By using a digital loop controller (DLC), the CDR gains considerable area reduction with flexibility to adjust the loop dynamics. At the circuit level it focuses on applying different circuit techniques to mitigate the circuit imperfections. It presents a wideband analog front end (AFE), suitable for a 56 Gb/s, 28-Gbaud PAM-4 signal, by using an 8x interleaved, master/ slave based sample and hold circuit. In addition, the AFE is equipped with a calibration scheme which corrects the errors associated with the sampling channels’ offset voltage and gain mismatches. The presented digital to phase converter (DPC) features a modified phase interpolator (PI), a new quadrature phase corrector (QPC) and multi-phase output with de-skewing capabilities.The DPC (as a standalone block) and the CDR (as the main focus of this work) were fabricated in 65-nm CMOS technology. Based on the measurements, the DPC achieves DNL/INL of 0.7/6 LSB respectively while consuming 40.5 mW power from 1.05 V supply. Although the CDR was not fully operational with the PAM4 input, the results from 25-Gbaud PAM2 (NRZ) test setup were used to estimate the performance. Under this scenario, the 1-UI JTOL bandwidth was measured to be 2 MHz with BER threshold of 10−4. The chip consumes 236 mW of power while operating on 1 − 1.2 V supply range achieving an energyefficiency of 4.27 pJ/bit.
Wireline and optical communication , Clock and data recovery , PAM4 clock and data recovery , Optical transceivers , Digital to phase converters , Data centers , Short-reach optical communication
Khanghah, M. M. 2022. Design of clock and data recovery circuits for energy-efficient short-reach optical transceivers. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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