IBM’s Holey Optochip Breaks the Terabit Barrier

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.

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MIT Sees the Light on Optical Chips

MIT researchers are one step closer to creating photonic chips that use light beams instead of electrons to perform computational tasks. The research team developed a light-based diode that could lead to a low-cost way to create integrated optical circuits.

MIT’s research team published a paper on the new device in the journal Nature Photonics in November.

We already use fiber optics for communication systems, but when data reaches a computer the information has to be converted to electronic form to be processed, then changed back to light again. The folks at MIT were looking for a way to skip that conversion step in order to increase efficiency.

A photonic chip could transfer information at the speed of light, and could someday allow engineers to work in the cloud without worrying about broadband bottlenecks.

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