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IBM manufactures light-based ‘nanophotonic’ chips to let the terabytes flow

There has been a major advancement in optical communications, by establishing and developing in a manufacturing environment, the ability to use light instead of electrical signals to channelize and transmit information for future computing. The quantum leap of intelligence and invention of the human race witnessed astonishing developments in the last 100 years. The breakthrough in the technology was achieved by IBM which took a huge step towards computer chips that use small packets of light called photons instead of electrons by manufacturing the first 90nm silicon-based optical processing modules. Silicon nanophotonics allows the integration and union of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using, sub-100nm semiconductor technology.

This achievement is a consequence of more than a decade of pioneering and mind boggling research at IBM. Silicon nanophotonics utlilizes pulses of light for communication and transmission, thus provides a super highway for large volumes of data to move at a very high speed between computer chips in servers, large datacenters, and supercomputers. This also assuages and lessens the limitations of congested and jammed data traffic and high-cost traditional interconnects.

The amount of data being created and transmitted over enterprise networks continues to expand and evolve due to an explosion of new applications and services. Silicon nanophotonics, now is ready for use for several commercial development, enabling the industry to keep pace with escalating demands in chip performance and computing power. Thus we could see an end to any impediment in systems whether it’s a few centimeters or a few kilometers away from each other.

IBM’s CMOS nanophotonics technology made it evident that transceivers will exceed the data rate of 25Gbps per channel. In addition, the technology is competent enough of feeding a number of parallel optical data streams into a single fiber by making use of compact on-chip wavelength-division multiplexing devices. The ability to multiplex large data streams at high data rates will further scale optical communications capability of delivering terabytes of data between distant parts of computer systems.