IBM's new CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics technology boosts the data transfer rate between computer chips using pulses of light, a development that could increase the performance of supercomputers by a thousand times or more. CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics combines electrical and optical components on one piece of silicon. The new technology can replace the copper wires that are used in most chips today.
The integrated silicon converts electrical signals into pulses of light, making the communication between chips faster, says IBM researcher Will Green. He says the photonics technology could boost supercomputing calculations to speeds approaching an exaflop, which IBM hopes to develop into an exaflop computer by 2020. "This is an interesting milestone for system builders [who are] looking at building . . . exascale systems in 10 years," Green says.
IBM also plans to use the optics technology to develop new types of transistors. "The nice thing about it is we have a platform which allows us to address many different places simultaneously," Green says.
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