With so much information traveling hither and yon on the Internet (especially if you’re doing simulation or renderings via the cloud), improvements in speed are something of a Holy Grail (yeah, I went there) for scientists. Chips that use light beams instead of electrons seem to be the way forward. We covered MIT’s foray into photonic chips earlier on EE and now IBM Labs has released its first prototype.
The Holey Optochip is a parallel optical transceiver that has managed to break 1 terabit (that’d be 1 trillion bits) per second. For some perspective, that would allow users to download 500 HD movies in a second, or the entirety of the Library of Congress in about an hour.
While photonic chips sound like something the crew of the Enterprise might munch on between red alerts, they actually represent the future of microchip technology. In much the same way that fiber optics has driven the growth and development of the Internet, photonic chips will pave the way for a new generation of high-speed chips.
If you think the breakthroughs in high-performance computing we reported on at the recent SC11 conference are amazing, then imagine how fast you could simulate multiple designs with light speed.