Light in the cloud: Photonic innovation for data centers

The widespread adoption of new cloud computing services, streamed entertainment, online gaming and social networking means that there is more data being transferred around the world now than ever before, and the amount is always increasing.

On the global information highway, data centers act as traffic controllers that receive and direct thousands of requests for information and services every second. Data centers are large banks of information storage and servers that organize and control this data. A combination of software and hardware is used to connect and direct traffic between massive populations of servers and computers around the world.

Initially, these connections were all switched electronically, through large amounts of copper wiring. However, as cloud traffic continues to grow and with it the burden on data centers, this electronic switching presents issues of speed, space constraints, and an immense use of electric power. When internet users perform actions like search queries and streaming videos, these requests need to be properly directed, and an increase in the amount of data flow means that more controls are required to manage the information traveling through centers across the globe. To handle increasing congestion, the data centers are under pressure to increase their data capacity while operating within the constraints of sustainable cost and available power. … (read more)


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