IBM Silicon Photonics Chip Ramps to 100G bps
Big Blue's CMOS Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology could mean a faster and cheaper way to move vast amounts of data within and between data centers.IBM officials last year said the tech giant would spend $3 billion on projects that include researching what will replace traditional silicon chip architectures, including among other technologies silicon photonics. The company this week announced that engineers have taken a significant step forward in the development of silicon photonics after designing and testing a fully integrated wavelength multiplexed silicon photonics chip, which will lead to the development of 100 gigabit-per-second optical transceivers. What this means is that the industry will be able to develop faster and more cost-efficient ways to move the rapidly growing amounts of data needed in big data and cloud environments, according to IBM officials. Silicon photonics refers to the use of pulses of light rather than electrical signals over copper wires to move large amounts of data at high speeds and over long distances. Such capabilities are crucial for everything from enterprise servers to supercomputers running big data and cloud applications. IBM's work will enable optical components and traditional electrical circuits to be integrated side-by-side on a single silicon chip using sub-100-nanometer semiconductor technology, officials said. A new transceiver will be able to share 63 million tweets or 6 million images in a second, while an entire HD digital movie will be downloaded in 2 seconds.
"Making silicon photonics technology ready for widespread commercial use will help the semiconductor industry keep pace with ever-growing demands in computing power driven by big data and cloud services," Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research, said in a statement. "Just as fiber optics revolutionized the telecommunications industry by speeding up the flow of data—bringing enormous benefits to consumers—we're excited about the potential of replacing electric signals with pulses of light."