IBM researchers unveiled the fastest and most highly integrated optical data bus ever developed. The prototype technology could bring massive amounts of bandwidth in an energy-efficient way to all kinds of machines—from cell phones to supercomputers. This could revolutionize the way we access, use and share information across many different applications.
IBM's new prototype 48-way optical databus takes up just 3 mm of width on a PCB, and is capable of a truly ridiculous data rate of around 8 Tbps. That's roughly 5,000 high-definition video streams per second. Even better, this "green optical link" is a hundred times more power efficient than conventional electronic connections, so the environment benefits too.
In the context of so-called green computing initiatives, the new optical technology could save massive amounts of power in supercomputers. For a typical 100-meter-long link, the power consumed by this new optical technology is 100 times less than today’s electrical interconnects. This translates into a power savings of 10 times over current commercial optical modules.
The optically-enabled circuit boards, called "optocards", employ an array of low-loss polymer optical waveguides to conduct light between transmitters and receivers. This technology was developed by scientists at IBM's Zurich Research Lab. The complete databus constructed with such optocards not only incorporates a large number of high-speed channels, but also packs them to an unprecedented density: each waveguide channel is smaller in diameter than a human hair. The packaging approach for the complete system is unique in that it utilizes hybrid chip integration to produce a highly integrated optical module, called an "optochip". Courtesy physorg.com
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