Sun Microsystems has announced that they have been awarded a research contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA] focused on developing microchip interconnectivity via on-chip optical networks enabled by silicon photonics and proximity communication. The contract, part of DARPA’s Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communication program, is worth an estimated $44 million over 5 1/2 years.
Optical communications could be a truly game-changing technology — an elegant way to continue impressive performance gains while completely changing the economics of large-scale silicon production,” said Greg Papadopoulos, chief technology officer and executive vice president of research and development for Sun. “Congratulations to Sun Labs and Microelectronics teams for their constructive creativity and for driving innovation into the semiconductor marketplace.”
The research program will combine optical signaling with proximity communication in order to construct arrays of low-cost chips in a single virtual “macrochip.”
DARPA’s UNIC (Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communications) program will demonstrate high performance photonic technology for high bandwidth, on-chip, photonic communications networks for advanced (trillion operations/second) microprocessors. By restoring the balance between computation and communications, the program will significantly enhance DoD’s capabilities for applications such as Image Processing, Autonomous Operations, Synthetic Aperture Radar, as well as supercomputing,” said Dr. Jag Shah, program manager in DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office.
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