A Cryo-CMOS DAC-Based 40Gb/s PAM4 Wireline Transmitter for Quantum Computing Applications

State-of-the-art quantum computers already comprise hundreds of cryogenic quantum bits (qubits), and prototypes with over 10k qubits are currently being developed. Such large-scale systems require local cryogenic electronics for qubit control and readout, leaving the digital controllers for algorithm execution and quantum error correction (QEC) at room temperature due to the limited cryogenic cooling budget. The entire process, including qubit readout, data transmission, QEC, and algorithm execution, should be completed well within the qubit decoherence time, thus requiring a low-power high-speed communication link between the cryogenic quantum processor and classical processor located at room temperature. To this end, this paper presents the first cryo-CMOS high-speed 4-level pulse amplitude modulation (PAM4) wireline transmitter. Thanks to a power-efficient serializing architecture driving a 6-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC), the 40-nm CMOS chip achieves a data rate of 40 Gb/s PAM4 with an efficiency of 2.46 pJ/b and a ratio of level mismatch (RLM) of 97.8% at 4.2 K. While demonstrating an energy efficiency comparable to state-of-the-art transmitters in more advanced CMOS nodes, the extremely wide temperature operating range (4.2K–300 K) will enable future large-scale quantum computers.