Engineers at IBM have developed a fully integrated wavelength multiplexed silicon photonics chip, which the company says will soon enable manufacturing of 100 Gb/s optical transceivers. The advance promises to offer a more economical way to move the huge amounts of data required for cloud computing and big data applications.
It’s a significant milestone for silicon photonics technology, says IBM, referring to the method of using pulses of light instead of electrical signals over copper wires to transfer large volumes of data at very high speed between computer chips.
The IBM design allows optical components to be integrated alongside traditional electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using sub-100nm semiconductor technology. The company estimates that the new transceiver can pass off 63 million tweets or six million images in just one second, and enable an entire high-definition digital movie to be downloaded in just two seconds.
Although the release focused more on the enterprise and consumer space, integrated silicon photonics addresses heat and power issues that face HPC as it heads to exascale and beyond. … (read more)