Carlos Pardo is CEO and Co-founder of KDPOF

For BlastingTalks – Blasting News’ exclusive interviews with business and cultural leaders – Carlos Pardo has given an interview about KDPOF’s alternative to traditional fiber optics that allows for use in harsh environments and requires no technical expertise to install:

Carlos Pardo, CEO of KDPOF: Government support for entrepreneurs must be strong and sustained

The original interview is in Spanish: Carlos Pardo CEO de KDPOF – ‘el apoyo del Gobierno a los emprendedores debe ser firme y sostenido’. Following is an excerpt.

BlastingTalks: KDPOF’s technology enables an innovative and cost-effective high-speed optical network for harsh environments. What was the reason for setting up your company?

The historical reason arose when my partner was preparing a doctoral thesis on this technology, and we discussed the fact that there was room to establish a business for its exploitation. At the beginning, we were giving it a lot of thought, both commercially and technically; it took us a year to decide, and in the end we decided to start. That was 11 years ago.

What are the applications of the technology that KDPOF provides to its clients?

Right now, we are focused on three markets. The biggest one is automotive, which allows us to connect different parts of the vehicle with high-speed optical networks, which are becoming more and more numerous. Looking at the evolution of the vehicle, it’s now almost a big computer with huge capabilities, connected to the Internet, with cameras everywhere, that can drive itself, and so on. All of that brings with it tremendous data transfer requirements, and the optical networks that use our technology are optimal for that.

Another market is the home, to simplify backbone installation. Today, many of us are teleworking and the children are studying at home, and it is proving that the network in our homes is not up to the task. The access is very good because the fiber is deployed to the home, but the Wi-Fi does not meet the needs of applications such as teleworking. When plastic fiber is installed inside the home, the differences from the previous situation based on WiFi alone are enormous, such as being able to have 600 MB in any corner of the house. I still have access to WiFi, but as if I were next to the operator’s router.

The third market is the industrial market, which is made up of a variety of smaller, more horizontal markets, in very disparate applications, such as medical, rail, printing, etc.

KDPOF works with a wide range of low-cost, large-core plastic optical fibers. What other benefits do your customers get?

Using fibers that are plastic and very thick allows several things, such as very simple manipulation that can be done by anyone; they are fibers that don’t need any knowledge to manipulate them. This simplifies the installation process a lot and also gives a great robustness to the links. Traditional fibers may be affected by vibrations or a connector that’s in bad condition. These factors don’t affect plastic fiber, since the core is very thick and the material is flexible. This is what we are successful with: when people see how simple to install and robust it is, they lose their fear of optical communications.

The world has suffered a major health crisis that has affected all economic sectors; how did it affect your company? How did you live through the months of confinement?

The R&D part didn’t change much because people worked from home, and those who had to go to the laboratory came since there were only one or two people at any given time. What has changed the most is the outside world: the automotive market stopped manufacturing integrated circuits and cars during the pandemic. That caused the world’s semiconductor manufacturers to allocate production capacity to large companies like Apple or Huawei. Now, the semiconductor industry is in crisis because it doesn’t have the capacity to manufacture all the pent-up demand in both the automotive and commercial industries. There is a deficit in chip production, and that has affected us quite a lot. Now, in addition, we’re facing a shortage crisis with the deployment of 5G technology and it is something that has aggravated the pandemic even more because many more computers are needed than before, for example.

How would you like to see your company evolve, and what challenges do you see in the short and medium term?

Right now, we’re getting more car manufacturers to adopt our technology; this is a great achievement in the medium and long term. From an R&D point of view, we’re developing the technology of the future, a technology that enables speeds of up to 50-100 Gb/s. To be a world leader, we would like to have more support from companies such as Telefónica; to have them adopt our technology for the home network as a complement to their WiFi. In the long term, I would like KDPOF not to be sold to a foreign company and for the knowledge and industry creation to disappear, but to be supported by Spanish or, failing that, European capital, so that the positive externalities of all this effort would remain in our country or in Europe. That would be my wish in the long term.

Video: Moving High-speed Connectivity Forward
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvp_0yIUlA8&feature=youtu.be

Connected cars are being equipped with increasingly sophisticated systems such as high performance computers, a growing number of ADAS sensors including hires cameras, radars, lidars, and HMIs such as 4K screens and head-up displays. Thus, data rates go up to 20 Gbps. In addition, highly electrified powertrains imply electromagnetic interferences. Watch our video and learn how optical connectivity solves these issues and moves high-speed connectivity forward.

Please see here for more information about high-speed in vehicles.

TV Report by RTVE: Spanish company KDPOF has created a new technology to transmit data at high speed over plastic optical fiber.

TV Report by RTVE: We visited the Digital Enterprise Show 2021, a very special edition that addresses digital and technological transformation. Spanish company KDPOF has created a new technology to transmit data at high speed over plastic optical fiber.
(The part with KDPOF starts at app. 4:15)

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That is what’s proposed by KDPOF, a Spanish company capable of solving the problems of low quality, which until now this type of fiber had.

César Esteban, Applications & Support Manager of KDPOF: “The signal is digitally processed to adapt the signal to the characteristics of this fiber, which is not glass. It is plastic and has much worse characteristics as a means of communication than glass fiber.”

Plastic fiber is not new. Its great advantage over glass is its robustness. It can be bent, it can get wet, and it doesn’t interfere with other electrical signals, which is very good when there is a lack of space, for example as in cars.

César Esteban, Applications & Support Manager of KDPOF: “That it is much more robust in terms of folding, but also dynamic stresses. It can withstand bending up to five millimeters in diameter, right? In applications we can submerge the connectors, but even if water gets in the transmission, you see that it continues. It’s a really robust technology. The low weight, the low cost, the low power consumption of the technology.”

TV Report by RTVE: Spanish company KDPOF has created a new technology to transmit data at high speed over plastic optical fiber.

The problem with plastic fiber was, in the past, its low quality. What they do at KDPOF that is changing the uses of this technology is to process and adapt the transmitted signal thanks to their own microelectronic technology, despite the noise and distortions. Thanks to this chip they are able to transmit data at one gigabit speed and increasing.

TV Report by RTVE: Spanish company KDPOF has created a new technology to transmit data at high speed over plastic optical fiber.

Rubén Pérez de Aranda, CTO and Co-founder of KDPOF: “So we said, ‘Hey, this fiber is very bad and these light sources that are used to transmit the data are bad in terms of bandwidth and noise, but we know all the algorithmics that can be built.’ And, in fact, we are the first company in the world to have developed advanced systems for fiber optic communications. No one before had ever used such spectrally efficient modulations or such advanced decoding systems as we use in fiber optics. And, in fact, this has been the basis of what will be the future, because we are already developing the next generation for multi-gigabit that will allow cars to drive themselves. Because what we are is the nervous system of a car.”

From there, the uses of plastic fiber are unimaginable. In connected vehicles, they manage to solve the problem of signal interference on the one hand, and on the other they help to reduce the weight of cars.

Carlos Pardo, CEO and Co-founder of KDPOF: “You have, in addition, several computers in parallel. Because for redundancy issues and as it is a safety issue you need to connect the two computers, the amount of information that is moving in cars is rising exponentially and we are offering a very robust solution and, as I said, it is very light, at a very competitive price that really, well, is opening up the market for us in a tremendous way.”

Plastic fiber also solves a domestic problem for demanding users: high speed and low latency in all rooms.

Carlos Pardo, CEO and Co-founder of KDPOF: “The difference between always being dependent on, ‘I have coverage here. Wait for me to move half a meter,’ and when someone passes in front of me I lose the connection; to having a reliable connection where I can play games, where I can watch videos, where I can have meetings without any problems. It’s really life-changing.”

The possibilities offered by this technology, both in vehicles and in homes, offer a more than promising future to connect to every last corner at full speed.

Carlos Pardo will give an online presentation about Automotive Optical Multi-gigabit Ethernet at the Automotive Technologies Virtual Conference on May 13, 2021

Carlos Pardo will give an online presentation about Automotive Optical Multi-gigabit Ethernet at the Automotive Technologies Virtual Conference on May 13, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. EST and on demand. In-Vehicle Network (IVN) requirements are quickly evolving with new challenges like automated driving or electric power trains. The IVN has to support use cases such the vehicle data backbone, smart antennas, ADAS cameras/sensors, and displays or data loggers which demand higher data bandwidth while maintaining the reliability level required by the automotive industry. A new IVN standard is needed for multi-gigabit optical communications.

This optical automotive IVN communication standard, 802.3cz, is currently under development within the IEEE and is supported by several industry-leading companies. The new standard will cover rates up to 50 Gbits/s and support several in-line connectors. The target BER is better than 10-12 with ambient operation temp from -40°C up to +105°C (AEC-Q100 grade 2) in harsh automotive environments. High reliability (15 years operation, less than 10 FIT), and outstanding EMC compliance will also be fulfilled. In his presentation, Carlos Pardo will cover the needed standard, and detail the components needed to make this a reality.

For more information and registration, please visit automotivevirtualconference.com

The new integrated KD9351 Fiber Optic Transceiver (FOT) from KDPOF further reduces costs for optical in-vehicle networks at 1 Gb/s. Incorporating the transmit and receive optoelectronics into one single component, the KD9351 is an optical transceiver for 100 Mb/s up to 1 Gb/s with a small footprint. “Compared to STP (shielded twisted pair of copper wires), the combination of the new KD9351 FOT with the continuing KD1053 IC cuts the cost for 1 Gb/s by 30 percent,” explained Carlos Pardo, CEO and Co-founder of KDPOF. “The new integrated device provides enhanced efficiency and flexibility. It thus paves the way to optical multi-gigabit Ethernet in the vehicle.” Applications for the new KD9351, with competitive pricing for EMC critical or galvanic isolated critical links, include safe Ethernet backbones and sensor links for advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).

KDPOF Provides Efficient Optical Technology for Safe Backbone and ADAS Sensor Links in Vehicles

KDPOF presents new integrated KD9351 FOT for automotive gigabit connectivity

New integrated KD9351 FOT for automotive gigabit connectivity

KDPOF significantly lowers costs for the new KD9351 by constructing the transimpedance amplifier, photodiode, LED driver, and LED as one single device. Additional benefits are a shorter supply chain and no test duplication with the final test at the Tier1. Furthermore, the assembly of the FOT and the existing KD1053 IC is simplified and the connector offers snap-fit without soldering. The KD9351 reuses low-cost MEMs encapsulation and allows SMD reflow assembly with 8 by 7 mm LGA components. It is fully shielded against electromagnetic radiation. Fiber connection is done with a very simple plastic connector placed on top. The temperature range, from -40 °C to +105 °C, conforms with harsh automotive environmental requirements. The FOT withstands motor conditions with a vibration class of V2. Additionally, the device endures water without sealing. EMC performance is excellent even with the ECU shield case removed, as shielding is integrated into the PCB component. Optics implement Tx and Rx lenses. Samples are already available.

Interview: Multi-gigabit Calls for Optical Connectivity in Vehicles

Carlos Pardo speaks to Sanjay Gangal of edacafe.com. Key questions have been: What are the key challenges for connectivity in electric vehicles? How can the cost issue be met? With autonomous driving ahead, the bandwidth required will speed up beyond one gigabit. How will the upcoming automotive network be able to meet speed and cost requirements?

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Connection and Traffic Testing with the KDPOF Automotive Evaluation Kit
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The video demonstrates the connection and traffic test for the KD1053 evaluation boards included in the automotive evaluation kit.  Connecting gigabit Ethernet over fiber optics, the automotive kit supports OEMs and Tier1 suppliers in technology evaluations. The kit is self-contained and includes all the necessary components to establish 100 and 1000 Mbps links over Plastic Optical Fibers (POF). The boards are versatile, auto-grade for SFP-POF. They are optimized for lab measurements in extreme operating temperatures, radiation, and voltage supply corners.

The automotive evaluation kit contains:

  • 2 SFP-POF media converter boards
  • 15 meters/4 in-line connectors POF harness or 40 meters/0 in-line connectors POF harness
  • 1000BASE-T SFP modules/UTP & SFP twinax cables
  • USB2ALL POF link

KDPOF presents the brand new integrated Fiber Optic Transceiver (FOT) KD7051. It is the first device for optical in-vehicle connectivity that incorporates the transceiver IC, optoelectronics, and optics. The integrated FOT is a 100 Mb/s optical port in one single component. “By constructing the ASIC IC, photodiode and LED as one single device, we significantly reduce cost and footprint for automotive Ethernet connectivity at 100 Mb/s,” stated Carlos Pardo, CEO and Co-Founder of KDPOF. “The decreased number of parts also reduces the effort in testing and qualification.”

Cost and Size Reduction by Integrating Transceiver IC, Optoelectronics, and Optics into One Fiber Optic Transceiver

KDPOF’s new KD7051 thus substantially reduces the overall expense compared to STP (shielded twisted pair of copper wires). Further advantages are no margin stacking between links in the supply chain and supply chain simplification. Consequently, it offers competitive pricing for EMC critical or galvanic isolated critical links. Applications include battery management systems, camera and sensor links, fast Ethernet links and smart antenna links.

All New Physical Layer

KDPOF’s new transceiver IC KD7051 offers a complete new FOT design. It reuses low cost MEMs encapsulation and allows SMD reflow assembly with 8 by 7 mm LGA components. The FOT is fully shielded against electromagnetic radiation. Fiber connection is done with a very simple plastic connector placed on top. The temperature range, from -40 °C to +105 °C, conforms with harsh automotive environmental requirements. With a vibration class of V2, it withstands motor conditions. Additionally, the device endures water without sealing. EMC performance is excellent even with the ECU shield case removed, as shielding is integrated into the PCB component. The assembly of the FOT and the IC in the PCB is simplified. Optics implement Tx and Rx lenses. The first prototypes are available.

Simple Implementation

As a plastic optical fiber with a large diameter, POF is more cost-effective to manufacture and install: installation is just easy plug and play; winding and clamping is similar to copper cables. Moreover, during the car assembly, the optical harness can be installed in the same process as the copper harness. POF has been present in vehicles for more than 10 years and is installed in millions of cars.

KDPOF has conducted a study examining the influence of home networking on online gaming and video streaming. For online gaming, the delay between an action the player intends to perform in the game and its actual effect on the screen can totally ruin the experience. Among gamers, this latency is known as ping or lag. The action issued by the player has to go through different network segments until it reaches the game server; it is then processed and the response travels back to the gamer. Numbers over 150 ms are a total no-go experience while being under 20 ms is considered a very good behavior.

KDPOF Study Reports Significant Effect of Home Networking on Online Gaming Experience

“There are three main segments that can influence the latency level: online game servers, access network, and home networking,” explained Carlos Pardo, CEO and Co-founder of KDPOF. “Our study showed that the home network plays a key role in the whole experience. Average values as low as 1 ms and up to 30 ms could be found.” A good solution is wired connectivity over plastic optical fiber (POF). It provides very low latency and jitter, just like Ethernet wiring but without visible cabling installed.

The Importance of Low Latency for Home Networks

The number one home network technology used nowadays in any home is Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, it provides little control over when each node has access to the air. Any packet loss is not noticeable for services such as web browsing, but when delivering video related services, these crashes generate peaks of latency. Those packets need to be retransmitted, extending the time required to reach the other end. If a device in the same environment is connected over Ethernet directly to the access router, the picture changes significantly. “It is not surprising that gamers prefer to connect over wires rather than Wi-Fi due to these effects,” added Carlos Pardo. “Delays are getting even worse with the rapid increase of multiple Wi-Fi access points of Wi-Fi mesh in the home.”

Plastic Optical Fiber Combined with Wi-Fi

Since wired connectivity adds only negligible latency to the path, it is recommended over wireless for the in-home portion. With its ease of installation, lack of aesthetic impact, robustness, and stability, plastic optical fiber is the ideal solution to contribute to a perfect online gaming experience. The ultimate home network solution is one that combines the advantages of a POF backbone with Wi-Fi access points throughout the home. It secures 1 Gb/s speed to each access point, avoiding any loss inherently present with wireless due to distance, walls or interference. While Wi-Fi links provide latencies on the level of milliseconds, POF is on the level of microseconds, i.e. 1000 times better.

POF can easily be installed in any duct throughout the home: power, coaxial, or telephone conduits, or easily hidden on walls, under carpets or through false ceilings. Devices that connect to the network via Wi-Fi will continue to use that connection, but will enjoy the dedicated 1 Gb/s speed of the POF network. This way, Wi-Fi speed experienced anywhere in the home is the same as next to the router.

Demo: World’s First 50 Gb/s Automotive-grade Optical Network

KDPOF has successfully participated at the virtual ISCAS 2020 in October with several contributions: a presentation on multi-gigabit Ethernet for the automotive industry, an overview lecture on high-speed data communications over POF, and an important role in the final industry panel session. The IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS) is the flagship conference of the IEEE Circuits and Systems (CAS) Society and the world’s premiere networking forum for researchers in the highly active fields of theory, design, and implementation of circuits and systems.

Towards the Multi-Gigabit Ethernet for the Automotive Industry

Session Chairmen Enrique Prefasi Sen, Analog and Mixed Signal Senior Designer of KDPOF, and Alberto Rodríguez-Pérez, Analog and Mixed Signal Manager of KDPOF, have presented the paper “Towards the Multi-Gigabit Ethernet for the Automotive Industry”. The paper, within the special session “Multi-gigabit Wireline & Optical Communication Circuits & Systems Session”, showed the status of Ethernet-based communication solutions, focused on optical links for the automotive industry. They displayed the implementation of a product compatible with the 1000BASE-RHC according to the IEEE Std 802.3bv, which is the first one able to transmit 1 Gbps over POF for automotive. In addition, the KDPOF experts described a new architecture to achieve up to 25 Gbps for automotive. The proposed multi-gigabit system leverages existing technologies such as VCSELs, multi-mode fibers, and photodiodes already developed for the data center industry.

High-Speed Data Communications over Fiber Optics

In his lecture, Alberto Rodríguez-Pérez gave an overview of the use of Plastic Optical Fiber as a medium for optical data communications and the techniques needed to get high speed data bitrates over POF. It is an interesting alternative optical communication channel to the Glass Optical Fibers (GOF) for applications that are not required to cover long distances, such as home or automotive networking. However, the reduced low bandwidth of the POF channel imposes big limitations in the maximum data bitrate that can be transmitted through this medium. Consequently, advanced data communication techniques such as channel equalization, data error correction, or data signal modulation need to be applied to achieve data bitrates above 1 Gbps.

Please see here for the video explaining the Multi-Gigabit demo.