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2010:Nanophotonic "chip" promises faster computers

Updated on December 19, 2010
Click pics to enlarge
Click pics to enlarge

The U.S. computer company IBM unveiled a new technology to make computer processors, allowing up to tenfold improvement in the capabilities of current "chip." The novel nano-photonics technology CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics promises smaller, faster and less energy demanding chips that will increase  the capabilities of future computers, especially in "heavy burden" of super-computers.

The new technology is compatible with existing and therefore does not require new tools and disruptions in industrial production lines, and required only a few additions. Integrates electronics and optics on the same silicon wafers, allowing the mainframe chips to communicate using light pulses instead of electrical signals as conventional chip, which allows further miniaturization of processors. This out, in turn, is equivalent to enhanced processing power.

The new chips, which incorporate optical communications silicon (transistors share the same silicon substrate with nanophotonic provisions), a product of IBM's labs after decades of research. Thus the same silicon is electric circuits and transistors can now also be used for the transmission and conversion of photons in the chip. 

New technology, already patented by the U.S. commercial company, is expected to dramatically improve the ability of future computers. According to IBM, one nano-photonic chip can transmit terabits of data per second. 

The discovery, presented at SEMICON Conference in Tokyo, was part of an ambitious program Exascale IBM, which aims to develop over the next five years, a super-computer that can perform one million trillion calculations (ie a Exaflop ) per second. Such a computer would be about a thousand times faster than today's machine soon and will for the first time, almost the same processing power of the human mind.

However, other than super-computers, nano-photonic chip can be used in future, including a game-console quality to significantly increase the flow of data between the graphics cards and processors. 


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