Silicon photonics with micron-scale Si waveguides offers most of the benefits of submicron SOI technology while avoiding most of its limitations. In particular, thick silicon-on-insulator (SOI) waveguides offer 0.1 dB/cm propagation loss, polarization independency, broadband single-mode (SM) operation from 1.2 to >4 μm wavelength and ability to transmit high optical powers (>1 W). Here we describe the feasibility of Thick-SOI technology for advanced optical interconnects. With 12 μm SOI waveguides we demonstrate efficient coupling between standard single-mode fibers, vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) and photodetectors (PDs), as well as wavelength multiplexing in small footprint. Discrete VCSELs and PDs already support 28 Gb/s on-off keying (OOK), which shows a path towards 50-100 Gb/s bandwidth per wavelength by using more advanced modulation formats like PAM4. Directly modulated VCSELs enable very power-efficient optical interconnects for up to 40 km distance. Furthermore, with 3 μm SOI waveguides we demonstrate extremely dense and low-loss integration of numerous optical functions, such as multiplexers, filters, switches and delay lines. Also polarization independent and athermal operation is demonstrated. The latter is achieved by using short polymer waveguides to compensate for the thermo-optic effect in silicon. New concepts for isolator integration and polarization rotation are also explained.