IBM Announces Nanophotonics Advancement

It’s been a big year for nanophotonics, the technology that makes it possible to build chips that use pulses of light to communicate. A year ago we wrote about progress at MIT in developing photonic chips that use light beams to perform computational tasks. Now IBM has announced it has developed a scalable silicon nanophotonics chip on the path to enabling 100 Gpbs networks.

According to IBM, the new chips can exceed data transfers of 26 Gbps, because the optical components are on the same chip as the processors. The chip can be produced using conventional manufacturing processes, which makes it more commercially viable. It allows the integration of different optical electronics side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single chip, using sub-100nm semiconductor technology.

Intel is also investing heavily in nanophotonics, and has already criticized what it says are inefficiencies in IBM’s foundry processes, and that the CMOS and photonics should be kept separate.

Luxtera is another company operating in this space that is even further along, according to this interview in Forbes, in which vice president of engineering Peter De Dobbelaere discusses the work at IBM and Intel, and essentially asks, “What took you so long?”

Sources: IBM,  ForbesLuxtera, Intel

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