With the ability to move information at blazing speeds — eight times faster than parallel optical components available today — the breakthrough could transform how data is accessed, shared and used for a new era of communications, computing and entertainment. Or, it would take just around an hour to transfer the entire U. Library of Congress web archive through the transceiver. Progress in optical communications is being driven by an explosion of new applications and services as the amount of data being created and transmitted over corporate and consumer networks continues to grow. We aim to improve on the technology for commercialization in the next decade with the collaboration of manufacturing partners. Because of this, researchers have been looking for ways to make use of optical signals within standard low-cost, high-volume chip manufacturing techniques for widespread use.

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The latest example is a new prototype optical chip that they say can transmit up to 1 terabits per second of data, a number that could have huge implications in enterprise data centers and supercomputing environments.

It would take about an hour to transmit the entire Library of Congress Web archive through the chip, according to IBM. The holes allow optical access through the back of the chip to 24 receiver and 24 transmitter channels, according to IBM. The result, the scientists said, is a very compact, high-performing and highly energy-efficient optical module that promises bandwidth speeds to handle the rapidly growing amount of data traffic that is being created and run through both corporate and consumer networks.

The development of the Holey Optochip is the latest step by IBM scientists in leveraging optics to address modern computing challenges, according to Big Blue researcher Clint Schow, who was part of the team that created the prototype. Using light pulses is faster than sending electrons over wires, according to Big Blue researchers, who said they are continuing to look for ways to leverage optical signals for products that are cost-efficient and can be manufactured at high enough volumes so that they can be widely used.

The chip is made with components that are commercially available today, offering the promise that the chip could be manufactured at very high volumes and made commercially viable. The transceiver consumes less than 5 watts, which means the power used by a watt light bulb could power 20 Holey Optochips. All this is important for businesses that may need to create high-performance computing environments, but need to keep power costs contained while running such powerful applications as analytics, data modeling and forecasting.

IBM researchers said the Holey Optochip is the latest proof that high-speed, low-power interconnects are possible in the near-term. They also argued that optical transmission is the only way that the tech field can keep ahead of the huge global demand for broadband, and the rise of such computing trends as big data and cloud computing.


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