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Weekly surveys recent developments in optics in computing

Short article at from last week that can bring you up to speed on three significant developments in the use of light for information transfer in next-generation computers.

First, IBM

Hot on the heels of its recent demonstration of an all-optical data bus, IBM revealed a silicon photonic switch based on cascaded microring resonators that can route data at speeds of 1 Tbit/s.

Then NEC working with Tokyo Institute of Technology has developed

…[a] device – which has been developed specifically for a 10 petaflop supercomputer that the Japanese government hopes to build around 2010 – [that] uses laser diodes to turn electrical signals into the optical domain, while data is transmitted between neighbouring chips using bundles of optical fibres.

And lastly the Sun/Darpa announcement and their plans.

Sun’s approach will be to construct arrays of low-cost chips linked together optically to create a single “macrochip”. Although the details remain sketchy, it seems likely that Sun will exploit its “proximity communications” technology to develop some sort of optical proximity connection – in other words, the light will be coupled directly between the chips’ edges, rather than via an optical fibre or waveguide.

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