This new technology integrates electrical and optical devices on same piece of silicon, enabling computer chips to communicate using pulses of light (instead of electrical signals), resulting in smaller, faster and more power-efficient chips than is possible with conventional technologies.
What has been started as a pilot back in 2010 by IBM has come to life this year which enables transceivers to exceed the data transfer rates of 25 Gbps. Though the chip technology was available a while ago, IBM had to spend some time to scale the chip to be manufactured using conventional processes to commercialize it in true sense.
IBM sees the current high cost traditional interconnects will be replaced by Silicon nanophtonics across the servers, datacenters and beyond. The ability to multiplex large data streams at high data rates using Wavelength Division Multiplexers, will allow future scaling of optical communications capable of delivering terabytes of data between distant parts of computer systems.
“This technology breakthrough is a result of more than a decade of pioneering research at IBM,” said Dr. John E. Kelly, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research. “This allows us to move silicon nanophotonics technology into a real-world manufacturing environment that will have impact across a range of applications.”