Monday, March 15, 2010

IBM is preparing optical chips.

Staff research division of IBM said that they were able to develop the last element of the set, which is required for the construction of fundamentally new - optical - computer chips. In such circuits signals between transistors and cores will be transmitted through the light pulses.

So far, IBM is not specifically advertise the fact that a large group corporation engaged in applied scientists silicon photonics - the science that is examining ways to transfer data within computer systems using light pulses. But now the press office of IBM proudly told the world: scientists have created a corporation nanophotonic avalanche photo detector - a miniature device, capable of extremely high speeds to convert light pulses into a binary code.

It is based on all the same semiconductors. Spillage on the photodetector of a light pulse, in his material released several carriers, which then release the other carriers - is cascading effect. As a result of the original signal is multiplied many times, and the device consuming the equivalent, compared with other similar photodetectors, the amount of energy and working voltage of 1.5 V, is able to receive optical signals at 40 Gbit / s and with minimum interference to give 400 billion bits per second of digital information. That is, the incoming signal is multiplied by 10 times.

To produce the photodetector were used silicon and germanium, ie materials that are widely used in modern microelectronics. It is important and that the photodetector was fabricated using modern production technologies, already used in mass production of electronic components. This means that it is not so hard to establish a commercial production of hybrid chips, in which the photodetectors will be located next to the transistors and provide a link between them and the kernels with light pulses.

A new avalanche photodetector - is the last component of a set of tools that are required for designing optical hybrid chip. First - back in December 2007-th - IBM announced the development of electro-optic modulator, which converts electrical signals into optical pulses. That is, electro-optical modulator makes the inverse established now photodetector. In addition, in recent years has also developed a tiny router to control optical signals, as well as a buffer to store them - ie the components necessary for the development of optical chips.

Even the developers are confident that the hybrid optoelectronic chips will bring the era of compact and efficient in terms of energy consumption of supercomputers with computing power, measured in ekzaflopah. This is a thousand times more than capable of providing advanced high-performance computing systems.

Applied silicon photonics is one of the most promising directions of development of microelectronics. It is no accident development in this area are many companies, including - Sun Microsystems and Intel. In 2008, Intel first announced that she was able to develop a similar avalanche photodetector with an output bandwidth of 340 GHz. However, IBM representatives say that their device is 20 times smaller than any of the existing developments. This allowed, in particular, to reduce by approximately 60% of noise in signal amplification.

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