Short-range parallel optical interconnect between integrated circuits can alleviate bandwidth, power, and packaging density issues that are associated with low-latency high-bandwidth input–output over electrical interconnect. In this paper, we evaluate the option of using true source-synchronous signaling over optical interconnect with a large number of channels, reducing the substantial per-channel clock synchronization circuitry to one instance. We also look into dc-unbalanced signaling to remove the need for data coding. Uniformity across channels is key to the feasibility of such an approach. An actual 64-channel parallel optical interconnect setup at 1.25 Gb/s/channel is examined, and models for the performance and uniformity of the different constituent parts of the interconnect are drawn up. Major attention is given to the statistical modeling of the coupling efficiency between a vertical cavity surface emitting laser array and a multifiber connector. Although derived in the context of a uniformity study, the stochastic models and the modeling approach are valuable in their own right. In our case study, the usage of a common logic threshold across all channels, which is required for dc-unbalanced signaling, appears infeasible after all models are combined. Efficient true source-synchronous signaling turns out to be within reach in carefully designed systems.
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