Boston, June 28, 2023 Photonics computing company Lightelligence has introduced Hummingbird, a network-on-chip (oNOC) optical processor designed for domain-specific AI workloads.
Lightelligence said Hummingbird uses vertically stacked packaging technologies to integrate a photonic chip and an electronic chip into a single package that serves as a communications network for data centers and other high-performance applications. The first public demonstration of the Hummingbird will be held at Hot Chips August 27-29 at Stanford University.
Photonics is the solution to the critical problem of computing scaling, which has become urgent as traditional solutions struggle to keep pace with the exponential growth in demand for computing power spurred by breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, notes Yichen Shen, CEO of Light Intelligence. Hummingbird demonstrates how industry can address scaling by incorporating photonics technologies into their next generation product.
Lightelligence is breaking the memory wall with its proprietary photonics technology that could revolutionize the semiconductor industry, adds Dylan Patel, chief analyst at SemiAnalysis.
Hummingbird is Lightelligence’s second product in its photonic computer portfolio. Its Photonic Arithmetic Computing Engine (PACE) platform, released in late 2021, integrates photonics and electronics in a small form factor by leveraging custom 3D packaging and seamless co-design.
Hummingbird is the first in a family of products using Lightelligence’s oNOC platform, designed to improve computing performance by enabling innovative interconnect topologies using silicon photonics. Its waveguides propagate signals at the speed of light and use an all-to-all data transmission network to each core on a domain-specific 64-core AI processor chip, giving the Hummingbird significant latency and power reduction compared to traditional digital interconnect solutions.
Compute scalability challenges inspired the creation of an optical interconnect solution. Unlike digital networks, Hummingbird’s oNOC technology increases density scaling by enabling interconnect topologies that would otherwise be infeasible.
In oNOC, power and latency are virtually unaffected by distance, making the technology ideal for developing new and more robust topologies that do not rely on nearest neighbor communication. oNOC topologies such as Hummingbirds allow for higher utilization of computing power even in a single electronic IC configuration due to more efficient communication. With oNOC, mapping workloads to hardware becomes easier and gives you more freedom to select the right topology for your computing activity.
In Hummingbird, Lightelligence has implemented a low latency all-to-all optical broadcast network spanning 64 cores. With 64 transmitters and 512 receivers, Hummingbird provides a framework for implementing a variety of dense optical network topologies.
Hummingbirds electronic and photonic integrated circuits are co-packaged and integrated in a PCIe form factor ready for installation in industry standard servers. Combined with the Lightelligence Software Development Kit (SDK), AI and machine learning workloads can be optimized to take full advantage of the oNOC. oNOC and Hummingbird IP can also be customized for other unique workloads and applications.
Future generations of Hummingbirds will employ reticle stitching to support chiplet architectures to enable better scalability, improve power efficiency, and further reduce bottlenecks.
Lightelligence said it is signing development partners to sample Hummingbird-based PCIe add-on cards alongside Lightelligence’s SDK in Q3 2023.
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