IBM Develops Nanophotonic Switch
March 18, 2008 1:07 PM
comment(s) - last by
A visual representation of a CPU using nanophotonic switches to direct light speed traffic between cores on a chip.
IBM continues push towards light speed computing
In 2005 International Business Machines demonstrated silicon nanophotonic devices that
slowed down light
via clever reflecting methods. Then in 2006 it showed how a similar device could be used to buffer a full byte of information in stored optical pulses, a necessity for optical computing.
In December 2007, researchers demonstrated a silicon device that transformed energy from electronic impulses from a processor into light pulses -- the pulses in the 2005 and 2006 developments were manually triggered.
Now, IBM has made another
significant research breakthrough
in its quest to achieve optical computing. Researchers at IBM have announced that they have developed the world's smallest nanophotonic switch. The tiny silicon device, measuring a mere hundredth of the size of a human hair, is an essential step towards creating "light transistors," that allow chips to process at the speed of light. Such chips could greatly outclass today's chips in performance and speed, as today's chips rely on slower electrical communication through copper wires.
Before such chips, though, an important stepping stone IBM sees is the use of its optical technologies in on chip networks. The optical devices could be put to use as a bus between cores in
IBM's next generation Cell processors
or other multicore systems.
Yurii Vlasov, manager of silicon nanophotonics at IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center states, "
This new development is a critical addition in the quest to build an on-chip optical network."
IBM's partially DARPA-funded research is published in the April 2008 journal
, titled "
High-throughput silicon nanophotonic wavelength-insensitive switch for on-chip optical networks."
The switch takes light converted by IBM's other devices from electrical signals and can direct it along multiple routes. This will eventually allow on-chip optical interconnects. IBM states that the device fulfills several key criteria making it ideal for use on-chip. First, they state, it is extremely compact. Secondly, it can process multiple wavelengths of light (known as colors in the visible spectra). This means that with each wavelength transmitting data at up to 40 Gb/s, the aggregated bandwidth can exceed 1 Tb/s.
IBM has shown the device is tolerant to heat. This is an essential characteristic for successful on-chip deployment as modern processors develop "hot spots" which migrate around, based on changing loading conditions.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Technically ...
3/18/2008 3:22:11 PM
Technically speaking electrons don't travel anywhere near the speed of light. In fact, in a modern low voltage processor they probably only move at a fraction of a millimeter per second.
The electric field, however, is what actually carries the information. I'm not sure what the value is for silicon but for copper the field transmits at about 2/3 the speed of light. Enough to improve performance, but probably not ground breaking in and of itself.
As you suggest, the real advantage is in heat savings. Modern processors generate most of their heat not in the transistors, but in the links between them. A lot of the power used by a chip is actually used to charge the capicitence of the millions of circuits between the transistors.
"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
IBM Shrinks Cell/B.E. to 45nm Process
February 7, 2008, 6:41 PM
IBM Slows Light: Announces Major Milestone for Optical Computing
December 25, 2006, 7:37 AM
How to Recover Most Apps After Your NVIDIA Driver Crashes in Windows 10
March 30, 2015, 12:54 PM
Tinkerer Gets Old School Mac Plus Running on the Modern Web
March 24, 2015, 6:41 PM
Facebook-Backed Oculus Rift's Release Date Slips to 2016; Valve and HTC Salivate
March 16, 2015, 5:58 PM
Hackers Steal Roughly $1 Billion From Banks Using Malware RAT
February 17, 2015, 9:30 AM
NVIDIA Kills Mobile GPU Overclocking, Robs Customers Who Paid For It
February 16, 2015, 8:59 AM
Apple Offers Refurbished 5K Retina iMacs for $2,119 Online
January 16, 2015, 12:37 PM
Most Popular Articles
WSJ Report Implies That Google Leveraged Lobbying to Kill Antitrust Abuse Probe
March 25, 2015, 5:37 PM
Food Chemists at Italy's Barilla Claim to Have Perfect Instant Noodles w/out Frying
March 26, 2015, 4:25 PM
Apple CEO's Pledge to Give Away His Fortune is Worth More Than Face Value
March 27, 2015, 5:08 PM
Church of Scientology Buys Twitter, Facebook Space to Attack HBO Documentary
March 30, 2015, 4:27 PM
Google Readies Gmail "Pony Express" to Combat Facebook's Messenger Payments
March 25, 2015, 11:43 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information