IBM opens processor communications with optical switch

Logo IBMIBM has devised an optical switch that it says could one day allow processor cores to exchange large files rapidly, the company plans to announce Monday.

The component, which is still in the experimental stage, is the latest piece of technology in the field of optoelecronics. Currently, signals inside chips gets passed on electrons running on microscopic wires. Compared with photons (particles of light), electrons are slow, and they generate heat. In optoelectronics, researchers hope to take technology from fiber-optic communication and shrink it to the chip level. Ideally, these miniaturized components can be produced inexpensively on silicon, increase computing performance, and reduce power consumption. IBM estimates that a chip connected with optical technology rather than wires would use a tenth of the power and 100 times more data could be shuttled between the cores per second than with today's chips.

The switch essentially directs data traffic between cores. The component can handle multiple wavelengths of light and has a potential aggregate bandwidth of one terabit per second, far more than what conventional input-output communication systems between chips can do today. Greater bandwidth would reduce latency between cores. It is also small enough to fit inside computers: 2,000 of them could fit into a square millimeter.

IBM also ran tests in harsh, high-temperature environments that simulate the inside of a functioning computer and it continued to work.

A number of companies--IBM, Intel, and start-ups like Primarion--have been experimenting with silicon lasers, waveguides, and other components for making optoelectronics a reality for about eight years. One of the coolest is a device that IBM came up with to slow down light to make it easier to encode with data. These components, however, won't show up in computers for at least a few more years.


Tags: IBM

Add comment

Your name:
Sign in with:
Your comment:

Enter code:

E-mail (not required)
E-mail will not be disclosed to the third party

Last news

Galaxy Note10 really is built around a 6.7-inch display
You may still be able to download your content
Facebook, Messenger and Instagram are all going away
Minimize apps to a floating, always-on-top bubble
Japan Display has been providing LCDs for the iPhone XR, the only LCD model in Apple’s 2018 line-up
The 2001 operating system has reached its lowest share level
The entire TSMC 5nm design infrastructure is available now from TSMC
The smartphone uses a Snapdragon 660 processor running Android 9 Pie
The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
The evolution of the successful smartphone, now with a waterproof body and USB Type-C
February 7, 2017 / 2
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S - a tablet with the Windows-keyboard
The first Windows-tablet with the 12-inch display Super AMOLED
June 7, 2016 /
Keyboards for iOS
Ten iOS keyboards review
July 18, 2015 /
Samsung E1200 Mobile Phone Review
A cheap phone with a good screen
March 8, 2015 / 4
Creative Sound Blaster Z sound card review
Good sound for those who are not satisfied with the onboard solution
September 25, 2014 / 2
Samsung Galaxy Gear: Smartwatch at High Price
The first smartwatch from Samsung - almost a smartphone with a small body
December 19, 2013 /

News Archive



Do you use microSD card with your phone?
or leave your own version in comments (16)