Using Light to Transmit Information --A Seminal New Breakthrough
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December 10, 2012

Using Light to Transmit Information --A Seminal New Breakthrough

 

              Siliconnanop (1)

 

IBM announced today a major advance in the ability to use light instead of electrical signals to transmit information for future computing. The breakthrough technology – called "silicon nanophotonics" – allows the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using, for the first time, sub-100nm semiconductor technology. Silicon nanophotonics takes advantage of pulses of light for communication and provides a super highway for large volumes of data to move at rapid speeds between computer chips in servers, large datacenters, and supercomputers, thus alleviating the limitations of congested data traffic and high-cost traditional interconnects.

"This technology breakthrough is a result of more than a decade of pioneering research at IBM," said Dr. John E. Kelly, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research. "This allows us to move silicon nanophotonics technology into a real-world manufacturing environment that will have impact across a range of applications."

IBM Silicon Nanophotonics technology is capable of integrating optical and electrical circuits side-by-side on the same chip. The amount of data being created and transmitted over enterprise networks continues to grow due to an explosion of new applications and services. Silicon nanophotonics, now primed for commercial development, can enable the industry to keep pace with increasing demands in chip performance and computing power.

Businesses are entering a new era of computing that requires systems to process and analyze, in real-time, huge volumes of information known as Big Data. Silicon nanophotonics technology provides answers to Big Data challenges by seamlessly connecting various parts of large systems, whether few centimeters or few kilometers apart from each other, and move terabytes of data via pulses of light through optical fibers. Building on its initial proof of concept in 2010, IBM has solved the key challenges of transferring the silicon nanophotonics technology into the commercial foundry.

By adding a few processing modules into a high-performance 90nm CMOS fabrication line, a variety of silicon nanophotonics components such as wavelength division multiplexers (WDM), modulators, and detectors are integrated side-by-side with a CMOS electrical circuitry. As a result, single-chip optical communications transceivers can be manufactured in a conventional semiconductor foundry, providing significant cost reduction over traditional approaches.

IBM's CMOS nanophotonics technology demonstrates transceivers to exceed the data rate of 25Gbps per channel. In addition, the technology is capable of feeding a number of parallel optical data streams into a single fiber by utilizing compact on-chip wavelength-division multiplexing devices. The ability to multiplex large data streams at high data rates will allow future scaling of optical communications capable of delivering terabytes of data between distant parts of computer.

The Daily Galaxy via IBM

Comments

Meanwhile back at the farm, our wetware is still jugging along at biological speeds like a Model T. It's like trying to drink from a hose except the hose is the Hoover Dam spillway during a flood. Biological evolution is at a crossroads or maybe even a dead end right now with little chance or time to adapt or catch up. :(

To J-C,

Who are you to say that biological evolution is at a crossroads or dead end? Have you seen every gene? Do you believe researchers have? Have you played out each of the billions of different combinations of genetic material? Have you seen which direction each gene in existence will mutate over the next however long is left to exist? Are you everywhere at once at all times?

If you claim to have an answer to, or answer yes to, any one of these questions, I suggest checking your arrogance and learning more, because it's merely your ego talking, and it sounds the fool. To presume a capability of knowing the future, or to be able to speak for the very processes that created not only you and I, but the entirety of all species we know to exist, can only be a voice reaching for the absolute heights of human arrogance. Please, stop claiming you can reach the stars simply because you know why they twinkle.

The more you learn, the less you know.

I thought they'd been using light to transmit information long before this, since they've known that energy carries information at least since Einstein, and light is pure energy.

Nice that they will be using light to transmit information to computers...and why not also for normal communications to help us come closer to universally available clean energy?

J-C Not sure that it's biological evolution that holds us back; probably narrow thinking, especially by some of those clever minds out there. That's something that human beings CAN change, and hopefully will.

Light has been used extensively in networking applications for a while now. Its called Fiber Optics.

However, I believe what they are talking about here is using light to communicate between various components within a computer/server instead of using a traditional copper trace BUS.

This is great! Computers will become smaller and enable us to learn more. My philosophy is that if we had just a minute more time to learn, we would unravel the mysteries of the universe.

Light-based information transmitting technological innovation is eye-catching because it allows wi-fi interaction without the use of stereo equipment, which can be risky in locations like oil systems, where it can cause sparks and marine, or on aircraft (where it can intervene with other equipment). Moreover, signals can be ceased simply by preventing the mild, and thus can be ceased by surfaces, so there is less risk of information dripping out of a house or office.


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