IBM researchers have built a prototype optical chip that can transfer a terabit of data per second, using an innovative design requiring 48 tiny holes drilled into a standard CMOS chip, facilitating the movement of light. Much faster and more power-efficient than today’s optics, the so-called “Holey Optochip” technology could enhance the power of supercomputers.
Optical chips, which move data with light instead of electrons, are commonly used for interconnects in today’s supercomputers and can be found in IBM systems such as Power 775 and Blue Gene. Optical technology is favored over electrical for transmitting high-bandwidth data over longer distances, which is why it’s used for telecommunications networks, said IBM Optical Links Group manager Clint Schow.
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Holey chip! IBM drills holes into optical chip for terabit-per-second speed