Friday, April 23, 2021

Holey Chip! IBM Drills Holes into Optical Chip for Terabit-Per-Second Speed

Ars Technica: IBM has unveiled a prototype CMOS chip that can transfer data at speeds up to one terabit per second. In order to achieve the speed breakthrough, the company drilled 48 tiny holes a standard CMOS chip; the resulting “Holey Optochip” technology allows for a much faster movement of light.

Because optical technology transfers data faster than traditional semiconductor chips, the world’s fastest supercomputers often use optical chips. “I think the number one supercomputer ten years ago had no optics in it whatsoever, and now you’re seeing large scale deployments, mostly for rack-to-rack interconnects within supercomputers,” explained IBM’s Clint Schow. “It’s making its way deeper into the system and getting closer and closer to the actual processor.”

Because IBM created the chip using standard parts, the prototype could become a commercially available product fairly quickly–within one or two years.

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